Primark staff in Northern Ireland are close to calling a strike following a second year of pay freezes.

Usdaw members, which cover 85% of workers in Primark’s eight Northern Irish stores, are being balloted on the potential action which closes tomorrow.

The ballot follows an earlier vote in December in which 95% of its members voted in favour of taking the poll for industrial action.

Staff at the value retailer’s Northern Ireland business agreed to a pay freeze in 2010 following lengthy negotiations involving the Labour Relations Agency (LRA), however Primark refused to offer any pay rise last year which stimulated the call for a strike.

Ongoing talks with the LRA, an independent agency tasked with improving employment relations in the country, have failed to secure an agreement.

No decision has yet been taken on the form or timing of any strike action to take place.

Usdaw area organiser Nicola Scarborough said Primark’s Northern Irish workforce is “dismayed and extremely angry” at the retailer’s attempt to impose another pay freeze.

She said: “Our members are well aware of the tough trading conditions in retail, which is why they reluctantly agreed a pay freeze last time round, but they are equally aware that despite these difficulties, in the year to September 2011, Primark’s sales increased by 13% and they made a profit of £309m.”

“Primark should play fair and reward staff for their central role in helping the company increase its sales and make those huge profits.”

A Primark spokesperson said: “Management remains committed to working with employees to resolve outstanding issues.”