England

British Sugar workers accept pay rise offer

Workers at British Sugar in the East of England have accepted a pay offer after a union ballot revealed insufficient support for strike action.

Unite's members at factories in Norfolk, Suffolk and Nottinghamshire had been asked to vote on a possible walk out over a 3.5% pay offer.

The union had wanted 5.2%, the current rate of inflation, but has decided to "reluctantly" accept the pay deal.

Of those who voted, 179 said no to industrial action and 135 said yes.

Unite's regional officer, Tony Ellingford, said: "Our members have unhappily and reluctantly accepted the company's pay offer.

"The decision was taken in the context of the grim economic climate that does not look like improving under the coalition government.

"Our members did hold an industrial action ballot, but it was deemed that there was insufficient support, by a narrow margin, for such action."

'Fair and reasonable'

British Sugar said it had been in active pay negotiations with unions since March.

"We have worked extremely hard to secure an offer that we firmly believe is fair and reasonable within the current economic conditions, and is above average pay awards in the external market place," a spokeswoman said.

Members of the GMB Union accepted the pay offer, but members of Unite opted to conduct a ballot to vote on industrial action.

The British Sugar plants are at Wissington and Cantley in Norfolk, Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk and Newark in Nottinghamshire.

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