A two-day strike by staff at Warburtons, due to take place this week, was called off after an improved pay deal was offered.

Up to 1,400 employees across the country had been due to walk out on December 13 and 14, after a 3.2% increase on hourly pay was rejected in June, and a second offer of 3.7% in July.

The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) will hold another ballot later this month to see if employees will accept a new 3.9% pay increase.

The results of the ballot will be announced on January 4. The affected workers are employed by the firm on a three-grade pay structure, receiving hourly rates of £5.77, £5.92 or £6.07. Ian Hodson, BFAWU Preston district secretary said: "The company has put forward a new offer and the strike has been suspended for a new ballot."

A company spokesman for Warburtons said: "Warburtons believes that the pay offer, which is now available to our emp- loyees within the bakery sector, is a fair and competitive offer and is in line with the settlements currently being achieved in the food manufacturing industry.

"We will continue working with the BFAWU to find a fair and amicable solution as soon as possible."