England

Nestle UK staff balloted in pay dispute

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Image caption Nestle workers have never before been balloted nationally on industrial action

The first national ballot for industrial action at food giant Nestle is to be held in a dispute over pay.

The Unite union is to ballot thousands of Nestle employees over what it said was a policy of "pay restraint".

Union members at sites including York, Castleford, Halifax and Glasgow will vote in the next few weeks.

A Nestle UK spokesman said the company was "confused and disappointed" by the decision as it had always conducted local negotiations over pay.

"We are currently engaged in local negotiations at almost all our sites, which are all progressing," the spokesman said.

"Nestle has never undertaken national negotiations."

'Extremely disappointed'

The company also has plants at Dalston in Cumbria, Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, Sudbury in Suffolk and Aintree, Merseyside.

Unite accused Nestle of refusing to enter into national negotiations, claiming the company wanted to move towards performance-related pay.

National officer Jennie Formby said: "We are extremely disappointed to have been forced into a position of balloting our members for industrial action, but Nestle, a hugely successful and profitable company, has consistently refused to respect the agreed negotiating process.

"Instead they are imposing a policy of national pay restraint and pressing on with a move to non-consolidated performance-related bonuses.

"Our members do not want to take industrial action, but faced with such intransigence on the part of the company they have been left with no alternative."

Unions said Nestle had offered a 1% pay increase coupled with a 1.5% bonus.

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