Employees at a Wisconsin plant owned by US chicken processor Tyson Foods have voted to end a strike that has lasted almost twelve months.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 538, representing 470 workers, walked out last February in protest against company plans for a four-year wage freeze, a reduced wage scale for new workers, elimination of the profit-sharing plan, cuts in vacation, sick leave and pension and a bigger bill for less comprehensive health care coverage.

Union president Mike Rice conceded that staff had not succeeded in getting the deal they had sought, but that they had voted, in the end, to save their union and their jobs. The vote went 293 for the four-year contract proposal and 70 against. The plant will remain unionised, reported AP.

The issue was forced to a head as the one-year anniversary of the walkout approached, as the substitute workers Tyson hired could have voted, under federal labour law, to decertify the union once the strikers had been out for a full calendar year.