STRIKE action at an industrial mask maker has been averted after the company made a “greatly improved pay offer”, The Northern Echo can reveal.

More than 100 workers were primed to down tools at 3M, blaming management’s 1.5 per cent increase for “destroying morale”.

However, officials at the Unite union, which was leading the action, have confirmed the strike has been called off.

3M, which makes millions of industrial face masks at a factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, said it is pleased an agreement has been reached.

The action was due to begin on Tuesday, February 13, with a 24-hour walk-out planned to be followed by a similar move on Thursday, February 15.

Workers had also voted to introduce a ban on overtime from Friday, February 9.

Members were upset at what they perceived was a substandard offer from management, saying the 1.5 per cent figure would have left them worse off as higher inflation continues to snip away at the cost of living.

However, a source told the Echo that talks held on Tuesday (January 30) have changed the situation.

He said: “There has been a greatly improved offer and there is now a deal.

“It has been put to the membership and they have accepted it.”

A spokesman for 3M said the business, which long maintained it was open for talks, said it is relieved to have found a resolution.

He added: “We are very pleased that an agreement has been reached between 3M Aycliffe and Unite in relation to the issue and that industrial action has been avoided.”

The Echo previously revealed how masks made by 3M’s Aycliffe plant were being used by British Army medics during training ahead of their deployment to Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone.