PANICKED motorists packed Ellesmere Port’s petrol station forecourts yesterday as 2,000 fuel tanker drivers voted to strike.
Unite members – 90% of drivers supplying petrol to UK garages – backed a call for industrial action on Monday in a dispute over safety concerns and instability in the industry.
The strike, the date of which has yet to be finalised, threatens to bring chaos to roads during the Easter holiday, causing severe disruption to nearly 8,000 petrol stations nationwide.
And there were queues yesterday at the town’s Shell stations and at Morrisons on Chester Road, among others, as drivers rushed to fill their tanks.
The Stanlow oil refinery, now owned by Indian fuel giant Essar, was the starting place for a similar protest that crippled the UK in 2000.
Blockades outside the refinery caused a shortage of petrol and diesel for several days.
Unite’s member drivers work for five major fuel distribution firms delivering fuel for household names, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, BP, Shell and Esso,
Meanwhile, protesters are also hoping to bring the town to a standstill on Saturday evening in a stand against petrol price hikes.
Ian Charlesworth, leader of Stanlow Direct Action Group, is calling on drivers to join a ‘go slow’ from Chester services lorry park on the M56 to Stanlow oil refinery, from 7-8pm.
Stanlow Fuel Protest Group leader Kevin Bowker has also rallied 50 vehicles to join the demonstration and is calling on supporters to line the streets.
He said: “The more the merrier. Now is the time and the chance for people to raise awareness and show how angry we are.”
For the latest news on the fuel protest, visit www.ellesmereportpioneer.co.uk .