By Marcus Leach

With fuel tanker drivers set to go on strike next month, with the potential to harm the country's economic recovery, conciliation service Acas has invited trade unions and oil firms to talks in an attempt to avert such strike action.

Unite the union have said that staff at five of the seven firms in dispute over terms, conditions and safety standards have voted to walk out, a move that could cause serious damage to the economy.

The government are looking at the possibility of using army drivers to cover staff lost in the strike, and the prime minister will meet later today (Wednesday) with the civil contingencies committee Cobra to discuss these plans further.

Unite wants minimum standards covering pay, hours, holiday and redundancy.

"Of course, take-up of Acas conciliation is voluntary and the parties themselves will determine whether they wish to respond positively to our invitation," said an Acas spokesman.

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