Staff at the Maple Leaf bakery plant in Walsall are to be balloted on industrial action, following a breakdown in negotiations over pay rates.

John Higgins, regional officer of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union, said that balloting would begin on 22 June. He told British Baker: “Our members have been told to sign new contracts at lower rates. We have advised them to sign, but with a letter of protest. However, this has been rejected by management.”

A company spokesman for Maple Leaf said: “We are in ongoing discussions with our staff and are hopeful of a settlement. So far we have received no notification from the union of their intention to ballot for a mandate to call a strike.”

In a letter sent to workers at the Walsall unit, published in the Express & Star, plant manager Dave Martin said: “Our site is unprofitable and our products are uncompetitive. Altering the rates will provide both flexibility and competitiveness to our site, which, in turn, will improve our volume and revenue [...].

“In the event that individuals refuse to agree to the rates, the company will need to consider terminating those individuals’ employment.”