Workers at UK turkey supplier Bernard Matthews are to strike next week amid a pay dispute with the company.

Over 60% of Bernard Matthews workers voted in favour of strike action in protest at what local trade union Unite has called "an effective pay cut".

Unite has warned that turkey supplies to UK retailers could be affected in the run-up to Christmas.

Union official Miles Hubbard said: "The workforce has held this company together through a most challenging year, so have been particularly angered by management's imposition of what is effectively a pay cut.

"It is indicative of the strength of feeling that members have voted for strike action having worked so hard for the company in difficult circumstances. They came under a good degree of pressure from management not to vote for strike action, so we urge Bernard Matthews to return to us with an improved pay offer which they have thus far refused to do."

Last week, it was announced that the chief executive of Bernard Matthews' UK operations had left the company. Bernard Matthews would not say whether Bart Dalla Mura resigned or had been sacked.

"Bernard Matthews has made a very strong pay offer in light of its current business position - a 2% rise in wages backdated to August, an additional recovery bonus at year end and a review of the situation in February 2008," a spokesman told just-food.
"The consequence of lost business is potential job losses, which is not what anyone wants. The union's strategy of fighting for a pay award when there are no additional finances to fund one appears to be at odds with its desire to work in the interest of our employees' future."

The strike will take place at the company's sites in East Anglia next Thursday (15 November).