Talks were taking place today aimed at resolving the fuel tanker drivers’ dispute - as UK retailers introduced fuel rationing. Representatives from the two haulage companies involved were reported to have met with officials from the Unite union at a secret location in a bid to end the industrial

action. Unite has already warned there is the threat of another strike next weekend if the matter is not resolved.

More than 600 drivers who deliver fuel to Shell garages walked out at 6am on Friday and are not due to return to work until 6am tomorrow. Drivers from other oil companies have also refused to cross picket lines.

The strike action, which stems from a row regarding drivers’ pay and involving Shell’s contractors Hoyer UK and Suckling Transport, has resulted in hundreds of retailers around the country running out of fuel.

According to the latest government figures, 647 garages, including 249 Shell outlets, have suffered stock-outs. The number was expected to increase today as the industrial action dragged on into its fourth day.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for UKPIA said retailers had been rationing fuel, especially in more rural areas. He added: “We have had reports of some of our retailers imposing a limit on the amount of fuel they are selling. They are trying to eek out the amount of petrol and diesel they have left while the strike goes on.

“But given the circumstances, things could be a lot worse. We hope that things will return to normal pretty swiftly on Tuesday.”