Workers at the Tangerine confectionery factory in York will today (Tuesday 8 November) begin the first of four days of strike action after members of the GMB union voted to reject a pay offer.

The row centres around a 1% pay deal offered by Tangerine which left factory workers frustrated. The company’s original offer was rejected in favour of a ballot for industrial action by 86% of members.

An improved offer was not forthcoming by yesterday’s 2pm deadline, leading the union to confirm strike action would go ahead. Workers have begun its strike for an initial 24 hours from 6am today.

Tangerine is the UK’s largest sugar confectionery and branded popcorn manufacturer, and its brands include Butterkist Toffee Popcorn and Princess Marshmallows.

GMB warned that action short of strikes will continue if talks fail to materialise.

"Our members have decisively refused this measly improvement to the offer they had already rejected. Tangerine’s continued failure to offer an improved deal has left a sour taste in the mouth,” sais Ben Kirkham, GMB organiser.

“This dispute comes in the wake of a long line of attacks on paid breaks and hand-washing time, reduced pension contributions and provider changed, training money and bonus payments pulled - the list really is endless. GMB members feel that they have been backed into a corner and are faced with no other option than to strike. I really must stress that this is the last resort for our members.”

US private equity firm Blackstone Group bought a majority stake in Tangerine in 2011. GMB said the company had since returned this investment by “eroding workers’ terms and conditions in favour of profit”.

A spokesperson from Tangerine Confectionery told British Baker:

“We are disappointed by this decision because we feel our enhanced pay and break time offer is a positive step forward for the long-term future of this historic factory.

“It’s surprising that some York employees have taken this step, particularly when we have invested more than £8m at the site during a period of intense competition within the UK confectionery market. Our door remains open to the GMB to resolve this amicably but, in the meantime the factory remains operational and we’d like to thank the many staff who turned up to work today, ensuring we continue to supply our customers and the public with their favourite sweets as normal.”