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Farmers to bear brunt of abattoir strike?

20 January 1999
Farmers to bear brunt of abattoir strike?

FARMERS could be among those hardest hit in the meat industry if a series of strikes threatened by meat hygiene inspectors goes ahead next month …more…
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Farmers to bear brunt of abattoir strike?

20 January 1999
Farmers to bear brunt of abattoir strike?

By FWi staff

FARMERS could be among those hardest hit in the meat industry if a series of strikes threatened by meat hygiene inspectors goes ahead next month.

Livestock producers could be left feeding a massive backlog of animals following a threat by meat hygiene inspectors to disrupt slaughtering at hundreds of abattoirs.

Almost 1000 meat inspectors have voted for the series of strikes, which they claim will cost the industry millions of pounds.

The inspectors say their pay dispute with the Government-run Meat Hygiene Service could, in some cases, completely halt meat production.

The news comes days after farmers voiced fears they would end up paying an extra £21.5 million a year in meat hygiene charges for BSE controls.

The charges will be imposed by the Government on the meat industry from 29 March.

Meat inspectors oversee livestock slaughter at Britains 400-or-so abattoirs, the largest of which process up to 500 cattle and 3000 sheep a day.

But they claim they are not paid enough for a job in which they are often harassed and bullied by abattoir owners.

The strike threat has fuelled fears that once again farmers could incur the extra cost of feeding livestock held back on farms unless the action is averted.

“Animals will have to be kept on farms until they can be slaughtered in the appropriate way,” said Janet Lim of the Federation of Fresh Meat Wholesalers.

Unison, the public service union behind the strikes, confirmed it would give seven days notice before calling out its members, making any action unlikely until next month at the earliest. Each strike will last one, two, or three days.

A spokesman for the Meat and Livestock Commission advised producers not to withhold animals from abattoirs until the actual strike dates are known.

“The amount of money needed to prevent this dispute is a drop in the ocean compared to the amount it will cost in lost production,” said Keith Sonnet, Unisons assistant general secretary.

The Meat Hygiene Service is understood to have urged local councils to divert environmental health experts to abattoirs to allow slaughter to continue if the action goes ahead.

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