Workers at RHM, the maker of Hovis and Mr Kipling, are holding a consultative ballot to vote on whether to take action over the company’s plans to cut final-salary pensions.

Trade union Amicus is asking members to hold meetings to see whether to fight RHM’s decision to freeze ‘pensionable salaries’ for 9,500 staff and to raise pension contributions, in order to reduce a £525m pensions deficit.

Amicus spokesman John Allott said: “These changes will result in less risk and lower contributions for the companies and greater contributions with much poorer returns for our members.

“This represents an attack on our members’ benefits, especially those furthest away from retirement who will see their pensions based on their current salary levels rather than what they will actually be earning at the point they retire.”

Allott said that in addition to failing to adequately consult with the unions over the pension changes, RHM, owned by venture capitalist Doughty Hanson, had not made its decision clear and many union members were unsure about how the plans would affect them. Amicus is therefore consulting with a pensions expert to provide clear advice to its members.