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Army to supply fuel if tanker drivers strike

Government wants to avoid a repeat of the fuel protests in 2000.

The government is training hundreds of soldiers to transport fuel in the event that petrol drivers go on strike.

A group of about 2,000 drivers - representing 90 per cent of those who deliver fuel in the UK - is expected to announce later today whether it will strike, which could happen as early as 3 April, ahead of the Easter weekend.

Driver's union Unite, the UK's largest trade union, started to organize drivers from seven different companies - BP, DHL, Hoyer, J.W. Suckling, Norbert Dentressangle, Turners and Wincanton - three weeks ago.

The government is trying to avoid the chaos that ensued following the UK fuel protests in 2000.

Francis Maude, Cabinet Office minister, said:

We are calling on the trade union Unite and the employers involved to work together to reach an agreement that will avert industrial action. Widespread strike action affecting fuel supply at our supermarkets, garages and airports could cause disruption across the country.

If the strike goes ahead, soldiers will transport petrol from refineries and police will be dispatched to distribution centres to prevent blockades.

The price of unleaded petrol in the UK has risen more than 50 per cent over the last two years.

In 2008, tanker drivers at Hoyer and Suckling won a 14 per cent pay raise after a four-day strike.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has not publicly commented on the looming strike.