Talks to avert a national strike by British fuel tanker drivers will extend into next week, industrial mediation service Acas said on Friday, lifting the immediate threat of industrial action that could seriously disrupt fuel supplies.
The Unite union and six fuel delivery firms have agreed to delay a legal deadline for calling a strike until next Friday to allow the negotiations to continue, Acas Chief Conciliator Peter Harwood said.
The intention is that no notice of industrial action will be given during that period, Harwood added.
Around 2,000 fuel truckers have voted for a strike, which Unite says could hit 90 percent of Britain's forecourts and lead to stocks beginning to run dry within 48 hours of any action.
No dates for any action have been set and the union must give seven days' notice for any walkout. The union had faced a deadline of 4.00 p.m. British time on Friday to give that notice, a legal cutoff now extended by seven days.
The two sides have been in discussions over tanker drivers' terms and conditions since before the Easter weekend.
Drivers fearing an imminent strike rushed to buy fuel at the end of last month after the government advised motorists to prepare for a stoppage by the tanker drivers.
Fuel retailers condemned the government's warnings as irresponsible and inept after panic buying led to huge queues at petrol stations.
(Reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Alison Williams)