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Strike action could leave Ulster homes feeling the cold

By Lesley-Anne Henry

Hundreds of homes could face a cold winter because of strike action by drivers for Northern Ireland's biggest oil supplier.

Workers at the Maxol Direct branch in Mallusk are to ballot next week for industrial action, including an all-out strike.

The Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union represents 28 of the 32 drivers at the depot.

It has warned that the action, if agreed, will hit home deliveries in December and January.

Sean Smyth, the union's regional industrial organiser, told the Belfast Telegraph that three months of failed negotiations had left the union with " no option" but to ballot for strike action.

He said management had threatened redundancies unless drivers accepted a pay freeze.

According to Mr Smyth, the conditional 3% pay increase offered by management includes a reduction in overtime during the normal working week and the likelihood of working additional days during the busy winter months with a view to getting leave in lieu during the summer.

He said: "In reality, this is a pay cut. It would mean a loss of £40 a day.

"We have offered to go to the Labour Relations Agency to help sort this out, but management have refused.

"All we want is an increase in keeping with inflation."

A strike could affect up to 500 oil deliveries a day to homes in greater Belfast.

Paul Sweeney, Maxol Direct operations manager, said: "Maxol Direct will endeavour to meet the requirements of all our customers."

He added that it would be business as usual.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph