Industrial action was averted at Hovis last week after union members and management came together at the eleventh hour to discuss proposed changes to work practices at its Avonmouth bakery.

The Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union issued a notification to parent company Premier Foods last week over its intention to stage a ballot for potential industrial action, following proposed changes to shift patterns, payment practices and holiday entitlement.

However, after further negotiations the union said it was hopeful of a resolution. “They took us to the wire but we feel more positive that the issues can be resolved in a rational, responsible manner,” said BFAWU president Ian Hodson.

The discussions follow the announcement in February from Premier that it would be making a “significant” investment to modernise the British Bakeries site, which would result in better quality, reduced waste and improved customer service and would be supported by investment in skills training.

However, it launched a 90-day consultation period earlier this year, warning that the investments in new equipment and processes would also lead to a number of redundancies. A spokesman for Premier Foods said details were still being thrashed out.