Unilever has reached a deal to end a month-long strike in the Netherlands, just days before the stoppages were due to threaten the company's deliveries in the country.

The Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, maker of brands including Knorr soup and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, invited union officials yesterday (5 November) for fresh talks in a bid to break the deadlock.

Between 900 and 1,000 workers had conducted an intermittent strike at Unilever's six production sites for the last three weeks.

Employees were protesting Unilever's plans to close three of those facilities, moves that will lead to the loss of 474 jobs. The striking workers also wanted a new pay deal for the employees to remain after the closures.

Unilever has stood firm on its restructuring plans but last night agreed to award compensation payments to workers affected by the closures and to hand out pay increases to the remaining workers for 2007 and 2008.

A Unilever spokesperson told just-food today (6 November) that the strikes had halted production for the last fortnight and that deliveries were threatened.

"Negotiations are a game of give and take - and that's the same for the unions as well," the spokesperson said. "We had been building up stocks for a couple of months and there were no very serious out-of-stock situations but delivery to customers could have been threatened next week."

Union officials could not be reached for immediate comment. The unions will present the proposals to their members today.