Planned industrial action by workers in the wool textile industry has collapsed after the Confederation of British Wool Textiles threatened to challenge the legality of the ballot in court.

The Transport and General Workers' Union was planning a series of selective strikes after rejecting a 1.5 per cent pay offer. They were due to begin this week until it was discovered that workers at one mill never received ballot papers.

The strikes were halted by the union after taking legal advice. An internal investigation is taking place into how the ballot, which was organised by the Electoral Reform Society, was conducted.

If the union is to press ahead with action it now seems certain that a new ballot will have to be arranged.

Mr John Lambert, director general of the Confederation, said he was pleased that the strikes had been averted. "Given the number of people who took part in the ballot, I do not think there is any great enthusiasm for industrial action."

By Clive Hincliffe.