UPS has made an eleventh-hour offer to prevent strike action by 50 drivers which could cause major disruption to Argos deliveries in the run up to Christmas..

The offer follows ACAS talks this week between UPS and the union Unite and will be put to members in a ballot on Thursday.

The UPS drivers, who work on a major Argos contract, are threatening to down tools and walk out of the flagship Burton-on-Trent facility on 17 December for more than two weeks.

If the new offer is accepted it will end a long-running and bitter dispute which centres on a pay claim submitted in March which the union says UPS has failed to adequately consider.

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Unite has accused UPS of treating drivers "disgracefully" and failing to consider their demands. It also slammed them for offering a voucher scheme instead of a pay rise which it claimed it could not put to members in a ballot because it lacked any detail.

Unite had also criticised Argos' insistence that the pay claim could not be lodged, because the workers were midway through a previously agreed two-year pay deal, before finally acknowledging that the claim was valid.

Following the ACAS talks between Unite and UPS this week the union said a “new offer” had been made and ballot results on the deal will be out on Thursday.

Unite and UPS put out a joint statement this week which stated: "Unite and UPS can confirm that they have reached a recommended position concerning UPS staff servicing the Argos facility in Barton, Staffordshire. Please understand that this process is ongoing and as such we will not discuss any details in public.”

An Argos spokesman said the issue was "a matter between UPS and its workforce".