By Oliver Hotham
Fuel delivery drivers have voted in favour of industrial action, raising fears that nearly 8,000 petrol stations will be forced to close.
The members of the union Unite voted 61% in favour of action.
The strike is over safety conditions and pay, and was supported by employees of BP and Tesco, among others.
Such a strike, it is predicted, could close down 7,900 petrol stations across the country, as Unite employees supply 90% of Britain's petrol stations.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said that the prospect of strikes is disappointing and that the potential for a fuel shortage is in nobody's interest.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said the strike must be "avoided at all costs".
He said: "The right way to do that is by both sides getting round the table and negotiating.
"That's what the government should be urging, that's what I'm urging, and that's what the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is urging."
Unite is one of the Labour party's largest donors.
The government has condemned the strike and said that the army is ready to distribute fuel if needed. It plans to take emergency action to ensure that emergency services are adequately equipped.
Unite has insisted that a strike can be averted if negotiations are opened.