Strike called off at eleventh hour

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STRIKE action at Burton’s Foods’ factory was called off after an eleventh hour challenge by company bosses.

Members of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) were set to hold their first of a series of one-day strikes and a work-to-rule regime yesterday, but all action has been suspended.

Union bosses had confirmed that 86 per cent of the 300-strong workforce had voted to strike after being offered a 1.8 per cent pay rise.

However, strike action was dramatically suspended after the firm questioned the processes and conditions under which the ballot was taken.

A spokesman for the famous biscuit factory – home to Wagon Wheels, Maryland Cookies, Jamie Dodgers and Cadbury’s Fingers – said: “Burton’s Foods has been working with BFAWU representatives in an attempt to constructively agree a settlement package for its Blackpool members.

“Union representatives are currently reviewing the processes and conditions under which the ballot for strike action was undertaken to determine whether any potential defects in the procedure may have impacted the validity of the final outcome of the vote.

“As such, the proposed strike action has been suspended for the time being and production on site will continue as usual, pending the outcome of the union’s assessment of the balloting process.”

Union leaders have criticised the manufacturer’s bosses claiming they have accepted pay deals significantly higher than those offered to shop floor staff, and that the Blackpool workers are the lowest paid in all of the firm’s factories.

BFAWU organising regional secretary Geoff Atkinson said: “The company has issued a legal challenge and we are waiting for advice.

“All action this week has therefore been suspended, although we are still keeping the dates for next week.”

Staff originally voted to walk out on July 12, 18, 20 and 26, to work to rule and offer no overtime.

They were also angry at reported large rises in senior management pay deals of up to 95 per cent.

All staff except engineers were due to strike.