The threat of strike action by hospital staff has been temporarily suspended.

The GMB has been asking hundreds of its members who work for private company Sodexo to vote on industrial action in a row over possible redundancies and changes to working hours.

Sodexo took over the contract for non-clinical services at Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath on December 1. The company launched a consultation with staff on proposals for changes that could lead to the loss of up to 59 jobs.

The union held a ballot on industrial action, which closed yesterday.

In a separate row, the union, which represents around 300 Sodexo staff, staged two demonstrations this week after many of its members were not paid properly for the fourth week running.

However, following negotiations with company managers, a proposal has been drawn up that could resolve the dispute without the need for a strike.

It includes a commitment to ensuring any pay queries are immediately resolved and that all affected employees will receive an additional annual leave allowance to compensate them for the problems they have encountered.

The company is also committed to reducing the maximum number of compulsory redundancies that could be made and to actively seek voluntary redundancies first.

The ballot action has been temporarily suspended to allow time for the GMB to consult members to see if they accept the proposal.

GMB organiser Gary Palmer said: “We are pleased that we now have a proposal that can be put to members for their consideration. “This has been an extremely stressful time for staff on site but we are hopeful that a way forward has been found. “As always, it will be GMB members who will make the decision through the balloting process which will now take place.”

Sodexo HR director Greg Austin said: “We are pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement on a proposal to resolve the dispute. “We recognise that this is a difficult time for our employees and our focus is on resolving the issues as quickly as possible and ensuring that patient care is not affected.”