Britain’s Fuel Frenzy
Talks of a possible fuel strike have caused pandemonium for drivers over the past few days, and no one can say when everything will resume as normal.
Fuel tanker drivers across the UK have been discussing taking industrial action due to concerns over safety and working conditions. This has been in the pipeline since the end of February, when it was announced that 90% of the UK oil tanker drivers would be balloted on a strike.
Results of the ballot were revealed on March 26, showing that the workers voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of a strike. The union held back on revealing the dates of the potential walkout, but the law states that any plans for industrial action must be announced at least a week before they happen.
This meant that there was no need to panic, and should a strike actually go head, the public would be warned well in advance.
However, this detail did not stop Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude from wading in and advising drivers to stock up on fuel and keep a jerry can of petrol in their garage. As anyone would expect, mayhem ensued.
People rushed to their local petrol stations to fill up on fuel, causing one in five garages to run out of stock by the end of the week. Several petrol stations also hiked up their prices, some by as much as 10p a litre.
Police had to close forecourts up and down the country as the panic buying spiralled out of control. Finally, David Cameron made a statement in which he reassured the public that fuel would not run out. The madness eventually lessened the following weekend.
However, the real question is, why did the hysteria ever reach the levels that it did?
The fact was always that no matter what, a strike would have to be announced a minimum of seven days ahead of taking place. Despite this, Francis Maude still decided to advise people to stock up on petrol, causing public panic and fuel chaos.
The sudden rise in the amount of petrol being bought and the ripple effect which this had on the public could all have been prevented, had the government taken more care when advising us.
Crisis talks have been arranged between the government and the fuel tanker drivers are arranged for Wednesday, in the hopes of avoiding a strike. Unite, the union representing the tanker drivers has spoken out and said that there will definitely be no strike over the Easter period, but they will not stop until they have reached an agreement which they see as acceptable.
As a courier company, fuel is obviously a big part of our business and ensuring that it runs smoothly. The same can be said of various other industries, so there is no denying that petrol plays a big role in the UK business world.
The effects which this sudden panic buying had on these industries were worrying and extreme. No matter what result comes of the crisis talks, it’s essential that the public are then told in a calm and responsible manner, so as to avoid another mad rush at the pumps. We can only hope that the Government has learned its lesson.