Fuel strike decision deadline extended

Before the extension if Unite had not announced industrial action today, its mandate from the ballot would have timed out. Photo: Press Association

Most motorists will have been unaware of the drama - but behind the scenes of the fuel industry this has been a tense day. Haulage companies, forecourt owners government emergency planners have all been watching intently.

Today is the last day the tanker drivers union, Unite, can give notice of a strike within the legislation.

If it didn't announce industrial action today, its mandate from the strike ballot timesout. So all day there has been rumour speculation and fear a strike would be called - potentially again unleashing all that misery we had a foretaste of with shortages and panic buying a fortnight ago.

But no strike has been called - instead the tanker company bosses have agreed to an extension of the ballot mandate for one week.

On the positive side it shows both sides think the talks are going well enough to keep their knees under the ACAS table, but on the gloomy side it means the threat of a future strike announcement continues to hover over drivers.

There is still time to reach a deal but today's agreement sets a very tight timetable and tonight the clock is ticking.

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