The 28-staff print department at US-owned packaging group Crown Holdings’ Liverpool site, which has a total workforce of around 150, had been in the midst of a series of stoppages after an agreed 7% pay increase was not honoured, according to Unite regional officer Phil Morgan.

The pay rise was due to coincide with the arrival of a new four-colour printing press but following its installation staff were told that only the press operators – around eight – would receive the increase, Morgan said.

However last week management announced a proposed restructure, as part of a cost-cutting exercise, prompting staff to suspend further action.

Morgan said: “The situation really changed quite dramatically when the company announced 14 potential redundancies at the site so our members wanted to stop current action to concentrate on this.

“We believe there is too much of a coincidence there. It seems like they are trying to brow-beat the workforce into ending this dispute.”

He claimed that management had made no attempt to consult or communicate with Unite members at the Bootle site.

No-one was available to comment from the company.