Quorn staff's 'yes' to deal

Strike action at a Teesside factory was avoided today, after employees voted overwhelmingly to accept a two-year pay deal.

Strike action at a Teesside factory was avoided today, after employees voted overwhelmingly to accept a two-year pay deal.

Nearly all 37 employees at the Premier Foods Quorn plant in Billingham voted in favour of a revised pay offer.

They had originally rejected a three year deal of a 3.8% rise this year, and a fixed rise in inflation, plus 0.5% in 2007 and 2008.

The revised deal is on the same terms but over two years.

Union officials said that the vote in favour of the revised two-year deal was "overwhelming".

A spokesman for Premier Foods said: "Employees have voted overwhelmingly to accept the pay deal and the company is pleased that the matter has now been dealt with, and it can concentrate on making the business go from strength to strength."

He added: "The company is keen to invest in this part of the business, given its recent successes."

In August, Premier said strong Quorn sales had helped boost its pre-tax profits to more than double at £27.9m.

Joe Keith, of the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU), said: "Employees have accepted a revised two year deal, and as such, no industrial action will be taken."

Staff had voted in favour of industrial action on October 16 when, according to union officials, workers were unhappy with a three year pay deal which was proposed by Premier.

Union officials said at the time that members were uncomfortable with the long-term length of the agreement, and that the amount offered did not reach their "aspirations".

But according to Premier, other factories within the group had accepted this pay package and felt that Billingham should be no different.

But meetings between union officials and company bosses were a success and both are now pleased that two proposed 36-hour walkouts have been avoided.

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