Meat processor Grampian Country Food Group is close to an agreement with the T&G over pay, according to chief executive Eddie Power.

The union is prepared to ballot the 2,000 of its members employed by Grampian on strike action in the coming weeks. It wants an across-the-board pay increase for the workers.

But Power said he was confident talks under way between union reps and Grampian, which employs 16,000 people, would head off any strike action.

"We are in dialogue with the T&G, and are hopeful the pay issue will be resolved amicably," he said. "We are already in the process of finalising agreements with them on pensions and agency workers.

"We have come through a difficult year, involving factory closures, redundancies and changes in working arrangements. But our position has always been reasonable and fair."

The T&G said it remained ready to ballot members on strike action in the week beginning 19 March.