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An Easter strike by fuel tanker drivers has been ruled out by the Unite union.

It is to join conciliation talks and says there may still be a strike after Easter if those fail.

Government advice to drivers to top up tanks has been blamed by retailers for causing "panic buying". Demand for petrol rose 172% on Thursday, and diesel 77%, said independent experts.

In York, a woman suffered 40% burns on Thursday when petrol ignited as she was decanting it in her kitchen.

The union announced on Friday morning that there would be no strike over Easter.

In a statement, assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: "We do still retain the right to call strike action for after Easter should those talks break down."

Some 90% of UK forecourts are supplied by the Unite union's 2,000 or so members at the centre of the dispute.

Unite's drivers, who deliver fuel to Shell and Esso garages and supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's, have called for minimum working conditions covering pay, hours, holiday and redundancy.

Conciliation service Acas says it hopes talks between employers and unions will take place shortly after Monday. Contingency plans

Queues formed at many petrol stations across the country on Thursday as demand for fuel rose. Continue reading the main story �Start Quote

   It is for the employers and unions to resolve their issues by getting around the negotiating table and talking�

DECC spokeswoman

Some garages ran dry but retailers said they were coping and normal deliveries would ensure supplies were replenished.

Anticipating a strike they describe as "completely wrong", ministers have called for motorists to keep their cars "topped up" but urged people not to queue.

On Thursday, Energy Secretary Ed Davey advised that people "just need to do the sensible thing... get a full tank of petrol, not a half-tank".

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