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The UK government has been accused of being “intent on creating a crisis” after urging the public to stock up on fuel ahead of a possible strike by tanker drivers, The Huffington Post reports.
The announcement has created panic in Britain, with numerous pumps running dry as motorists rush to refuel, according to the BBC.
“If there’s an opportunity to top up your tank if a strike is potentially on the way, then it’s a sensible thing if you’re able to do that,” said Prime Minister David Cameron. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude also suggested Britons stockpile petrol on “jerry cans” (although he was later told to withdraw the statement).
The Fire Brigade Union said the government’s advice to fill up petrol jerry cans would increase the risk of fires and explosions, according to Reuters. The government was also criticised as “irresponsible” and “inept” by Brian Madderson, chairman of RMI Petrol which represents fuel station retailers, who said stockpiling itself was already causing shortages.
“It’s the height of irresponsibility for Downing Street to give the impression that people should be panic-buying. They should be using all their efforts to get a settlement,” a labour party spokesperson said.
About 2,000 fuel truckers have voted for a strike to demand better terms and conditions, according to the Unite union, which has warned the action could hit 90 per cent of Britain’s fuel forecourts, and stocks would begin to run dry within 48 hours. However, no dates for any action have yet been set and the union must give seven days’ notice.
The government has put the army on standby in case of a strike.
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