A strike at the Port of Grangemouth, which threatened to disrupt fuel supplies to forecourts in Scotland and northern England, has been suspended.

Scotland’s only oil refinery is situated at Grangemouth and Unite had claimed tanker drivers were refusing to cross picket lines, and that fuel supplies would be affected.

More than 70 crane drivers and loaders began a two-week strike on Tuesday March 15.

The union claimed new rotas being introduced by Forth Ports amounted to a “de facto pay cut”, and that the company had refused to hold talks over the dispute.

However, late on Friday March 18 the union said it suspended the action after Forth Ports agreed to lift its imposition on shift rotation changes and enter into conciliation.

Unite regional officer Sandy Smart said: “We are pleased that Forth Port’s management have lifted their imposition on our members’ shift rotas and agreed to enter into conciliation.

“Our strike action will now be suspended with immediate effect and picket lines will be lifted, enabling full operations at the port to get under way again.

“This is an important first step on the path to resolving this dispute. If Forth Port’s management approach the conciliation with the same spirit in which they accepted our offer then we will be able to negotiate a mutually agreeable outcome.”

A spokesman for the Port of Grangemouth said it needed to alter shift patterns to adapt to seven days a week operation.

They said that with the exception of container quayside operations, the remainder of the Port of Grangemouth remained open for business and continued to operate during the strike.