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US baker Hostess Brands has said that if it is forced to liquidate the company it will be due to the actions of a “small minority” of striking workers.

Members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) moved to strike on Friday (9 November) in protest at an 8% cut in pay and loss of benefits that, the union said, would reduce workers incomes by 27-32%.

In response, Hostess said it does not have the financial resources to withstand strike action and insisted it will have liquidate the business if employees do not return to work. Hostess set a deadline of 5pm today ET for workers to return to the job. If enough workers do not return, the company said it will file for permission to liquidate with a US bankruptcy court tomorrow morning.

Speaking to just-food today, a spokesperson for Hostess emphasised the BCTGM represents under a third of Hostess’s 18,000 strong workforce. “A very small minority are putting the jobs of nearly 18,000 employees at risk,” the spokesperson said.

According to the spokesperson, communication between the company and union has broken down completely. “The union has not returned our calls for some time now.”

However, the company is “reaching out to employees” and “encouraging them to come back to work”.

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The spokesperson rebuffed the BCTGM accusation that Hostess’s owners have planned to liquidate the company rather than return it to profitability. “The fact that we continue to ask workers to return demonstrates that we want to avoid liquidation. I’m not sure what more evidence is needed,” the spokesperson insisted.

It is unclear whether enough workers will return to work to avert liquidation.

Officials at the BCTGM could not be reached for immediate comment.