By Marcus Leach

Talks aimed at avoiding a nationwide fuel tanker driver strike are to begin later today (Wednesday).

The threat of potential strikes caused widespread panic buying of fuel last week, with forecourts across the nation running dry.

Acas, the conciliation service, are to host talks in London between Unite, the union representing the tanker drivers, and seven of the UK's leading haulage firms.

Last week the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) voiced their disappointment at the potential strikes, stressing that they would not be in the best interest of the country's recovering economy.

Five of the seven firms balloted voted in favour of strike action, although today's talks, centred on issues such as safety, training and pensions, will hopefully prevent strike action.

However, despite talks taking place today the threat of strike action remains very real, especially given neither party are prepared to engage in talks face-to-face. Instead both parties will sit in separate rooms, with representatives from Acas shuttling between rooms to conduct the negotiations.

If the proposed strikes were to go ahead the union, under rules governing strikes, would have to give at least seven days notice. This would enable the government to reduce the impact of the strikes by deploying army drivers to help deliver fuel.

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