Heinz workers at Wigan factory face strike ballot

Image caption, Heinz says workers have been given a good offer

Workers at the Heinz Baked Beans factory in Wigan are to be balloted for strike action in a dispute over pay.

Unite members at the plant, which employs about 1,200 people, will be balloted next week.

Workers are being offered a 3.3% pay rise, followed by 3% in 2011, but Unite said the company recently announced a big increase in profits.

Heinz said it was perplexed at the strike call, as workers have been offered a "great deal".

'Totally baffled'

Jennie Formby, Unite national officer for food and drink, said: "While they [Heinz] choose to spend rising profits showering shareholders in dividends and massive bonuses for management, loyal workers are told to take it or leave it with a below-inflation pay deal for two years.

"Little wonder then that a strike looks likely."

But the company said it was "perplexed that an industrial action ballot is being held".

It added: "The offer also includes an annual, non-performance-related, fixed payment of two weeks' basic pay, a one-off payment of £200, plus significant improvements to the healthcare scheme.

"Against an uncertain economic climate and severe government cutbacks, this is a great deal for Heinz people in Wigan but the current action being contemplated will leave many totally baffled."

The site in the Kitt Green area of Wigan is the largest food-processing site in Europe, producing 1.5m cans of baked beans a day.

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