Wissington and Cantley sugar beet factory workers to vote on strike action

Workers at two Norfolk sugar beet factories are set to vote on whether to strike over a pay dispute which could disrupt the start of this year's sugar beet campaign.

British Sugar is anxiously awaiting the result of a ballot on industrial action by Unite which could have a huge impact its factories in Wissington and Cantley.

The company has said it has offered a 3.5pc increase in salaries for all employees but the trade union has rejected the offer and will ballot its members within the next month.

The union is instead seeking to secure a pay rise of 5.5pc for its engineers and production staff at the factory.

Tony Ellingford, Unite's regional officer, said: 'Our members rejected the 3.5pc because it was well below the current rate of inflation.'

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Glenn Holdom, from the GMB union, which has around 35 members at the Cantley factory, said the union had not accepted the offer but was not pushing for industrial action.

British Sugar has said it has been in 'active pay negotiations' with the trade unions representing its unionised employees since March.

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A spokesman said: 'We have worked extremely hard with the trade unions 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.'

The factory in Wissington is the largest in the world and annually supplies more than 400,000 tonnes of sugar to food and drink manufacturers in the UK and across Europe.

*Read tomorrow's EDP for the full reaction to the on-going dispute

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