The company had proposed a pay freeze at its York chocolate factory and its Fawdon sweets factory, which prompted unions to start balloting members on industrial action earlier this month.
Alan Black, national officer at the GMB union, told Foodmanufacture.co.uk that Nestlé had met representatives from the GMB, Unite and Usdaw (The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) late on Friday and offered a 1% rise in basic pay to workers at York. "Pay rates are negotiated on a site-by-site basis at Nestlé UK, so this is just the beginning."
But a ballot on whether to consult members on industrial action had not been called off yet, he stressed.
He added: “Clearly, 1% is not going to change anyone’s lifestyle dramatically, but it’s a symbolic gesture. Nestlé has been prepared to negotiate. We will have to see what our members think of it, but it’s too early to talk about calling off the ballot.”
The unions threatened industrial action earlier this month after staff at York and Fawdon (Newcastle) had been told that pay rates would be frozen in 2010. They were also unhappy about proposed changes to the final salary pension scheme, said Black. “Nestlé has got money rolling out of its ears and the chief executive was awarded a substantial pay rise this year. Our members just wanted a pay rise in line with inflation."
A Nestlé spokesperson said: "We can confirm that in York we have offered a 1% pay increase on base rates with an increase in bonus opportunity from 4% to a maximum of 5.6%.The unions will ballot their membership on this offer. We have yet to make offers at other Nestlé sites, but will do so in line with local bargaining arrangements."
She added: "The economic environment remains very tough in 2010. In this climate, it's important we manage the costs we control in order to remain competitive and to give us the means to invest for the future."
"We continue our pay discussions locally with the unions through the formal channels. We want everyone to share in the success of the business and our offer reflects this. We are confident that our pay and benefits package remains strong and is capable of attracting the best talent in the industry."