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A strike by workers at the Northern Ireland bakery, Allied Bakeries, which makes half the Scottish Premier League pies, has been called off.

Union members had been set to walk out on Saturday over controversial redundancies in the company’s bakery division.

However, the company said that its existing workforce and candidates who had applied for vacancies would continue to work until a suitable replacement is found.

The union Ucatt said the collapse of talks with the company could mean a complete shutdown. It said that 48 out of 80 workers would not be rehired.

A spokesperson for the company said that “As negotiations continue to take place, we are continuing to perform our duties to site and meet our delivery targets.”

Allied Bakeries said that it wanted to use the industrial action to force the UK government to change labour laws to give employers such as bakery suppliers greater powers to hire temporary labour in the face of a shortage of labour.

It said: “When supplies of labour for seasonal movements, like production of pies, inevitably fall below our acceptable standards, we have no choice but to use outside labour on contract. Allied Bakeries is a member of the PLC Employers’ Forum and is committed to supporting both UK and European Union membership of organisations and solutions to the UK labour market issues.”

Ucatt called for assurances that redundancies would not be made during and after a single day’s strike.

This is the first of two days of action by workers at the three factories in Belfast which make the Scot Macs, Crumbys and Twinings scones.

The union called in guards and sent heavily armoured riot vans to the RIC facility in Strabane to stop bosses taking workers out to the sites to carry out work.