Twinkies on the brink again as Hostess talks break down

Image caption There had been reports that a Mexican firm might step in to save the Twinkie

Last-ditch efforts aimed at ending a labour dispute threatening one of the best-known US snack food brands have broken down.

Union officials said talks with Hostess Brands had ended without a deal that would save Twinkies.

On Monday, a judge ordered Hostess into talks to try to avoid liquidating the firm, at a cost of 18,000 jobs.

The company is due to appear in a bankruptcy court on Wednesday, when it will reportedly seek to end operations.

Monday's order had given fans of the Twinkie renewed hope, but it now seems the decades-old cream-filled sponge roll could indeed disappear from US food stores.

Hostess Brands spent Tuesday in talks with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), as well as Teamsters, a much larger union.

Hostess made no full comment on Tuesday evening, saying only that the talks had been "unsuccessful".

Ken Hall, a spokesman for the Teamsters - who did reach a deal with Hostess - said the result was a "tragic outcome" for the firm's workers.

Members of the BCTGM union went on strike after workers were asked to accept pay cuts, diminished health benefits and a reduction in contributions to their pension fund from $100m (£63m) a year to $25m a year.

It also emerged that some members of the management had received 80% pay rises at the same time.

The company reached an agreement with its biggest trade union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, but the bakers' union stayed out on strike.

"Many people, myself included, have serious questions as to the logic behind this strike," Judge Robert Drain, of the Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York, said on Monday as he ordered a return to talks.

On Monday, the company's chief executive Gregory Rayburn said an agreement would have to come within 24 hours because winding down operations at the company's 33 factories was costing $1m a day.

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