A LONG-RUNNING pay dispute at a York sweet factory has been settled - and it has emerged the complex is to be modernised to help keep it competitive.

The GMB union says its members - who took part in a series of strikes late last year - have accepted a two-year pay deal at the Tangerine factory in Low Poppleton Lane, which makes sweets including humbugs, sherbet lemons, Princess marshmallows and bonbons, as well as Butterkist popcorn.

Organiser Ben Kirkham said he couldn’t go into the terms of the deal, other than to say it had been secured as a two- year deal ‘with benefits’ and 86 per cent of members had voted to accept.

But a Tangerine spokesman said it was reassured that more than four out of five of those balloted chose to accept the company's proposal, which he said reaffirmed a 1 per cent deal for 2016 with a 2 per cent deal for 2017, plus benefits tied to site efficiencies.

"The proposal also saw agreement with GMB on the fundamental principles of a modernisation programme for the York factory that will help to ensure the future competitiveness of the site," he revealed.

"This is good news for all parties concerned and means we can now concentrate on making the sweets our consumers and customers love."

He thanked ACAS for helping to mediate in the dispute and thanked the 'vast majority' of the workforce who continued to work throughout the dispute.

About 90 members of the union took part in a series of full shift and one hour strikes.

Mr Kirkham said on Wednesday that  he had been to the York site last Friday and held briefings with members, and also conducted a ballot in regard to a management proposal for a two-year pay deal.

“Bearing in mind the dispute was for the 2016 annual pay awards, securing a two- year pay deal with benefits in 2017 is pleasing and one that our membership has now accepted,” he said.

“In a hard fought dispute which has seen GMB members striking for the first time in 50 years, it has been a huge achievement that they have stood together and remained resolute.

York Press:

“That has been the principle reason why the employer re-engaged with its workers and why they have won.

“Speaking directly with the business today, it was agreed that the dispute has come to an acceptable resolution and we are now looking forward to working with the employer in the interest of our membership in the future.”

The dispute provoked a bitter war of words last November, when the GMB said its members felt they had been ‘backed in to a corner’ and were faced with no other option than to strike, although this was a last resort.

The union claimed it had witnessed a long list of attacks on paid breaks and hand washing time, with pension contributions reduced and provider changed,and training money and bonus payments pulled, and the company’s failure to offer an improved deal had ‘left a sour taste in the mouth.’

The company said then it had been disappointed by the strike, because its enhanced pay and break time offer had been a “positive step forward” for the factory’s long-term future.

It stressed that the factory, where 219 people were employed, had remained operational and it was able to supply all its customers despite the strikes.