UK union Unite has accepted an invitation to meet with Heinz tomorrow (22 December), in the hope that both sides can find an “acceptable resolution” to the ongoing dispute over pay.

The US food group is at odds with workers at its flagship UK plant over pay and staff last week held a 24-hour strike after rejecting the company’s offer.

Around 1,200 staff began a second 24-hour strike from 6am this morning and further walk-outs are planned before the end of the year.

Unite said today that it has accepted an offer from Heinz to hold talks but said the baked beans maker had “cynically” made the invite public before contacting the union.

“They released the invite to the press before they released it to the trade union,” Jennie Formby, national officer for the Unite union, told just-food. “We always said we will make ourselves available, however I am very concerned that they have given higher priority to briefing the press before talking to the trade union, which was highly cynical.”

She added: “I am seriously questioning whether they really do want to find a resolution. I very much hope they do, but our members are extremely concerned at the moment about the way in which the company appears to be game playing.”

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Formby said the union and its members will continue with the planned stoppages if a resolution is not found.

“[Heinz] just want to distract our members and the public from the fact that they are doing extremely well, and are paying their shareholders very well, she added. “Everything [Heinz] say, they are wrong and so I hope very much that they can start talking to us seriously tomorrow about an acceptable resolution for the dispute.”