25 January 1999
Meat inspectors strike next week
By FWi staff
THE first strike in the pay dispute which threatens to seriously disrupt meat production at abattoirs and slaughterhouses will be next week, it was confirmed today.
Meat hygiene inspectors will stop work for 24 hours starting on Tuesday, 2 February, the public service workers union Unison said this afternoon.
Further strikes each lasting up to 72 hours could be announced once the union has studied the effect of next Tuesdays stoppage.
Theoretically, the strikes could stop bring Britains 400-or-so abattoirs to a standstill, because the inspectors are required by law to oversee the slaughter of animals for human consumption.
“Any meat slaughtered on 2 February cannot be guaranteed free from disease,” said a Unison spokesman.
But the Meat and Hygiene Service (MHS), which employs the inspectors, hopes to minimise the effects of the walkout.
MHS officials have urged local councils to divert environmental health experts to abattoirs, which could allow animals to be slaughtered even if the strike goes ahead.
Nevertheless, the implications for the industry of strikes could be serious, admitted Johnston McNeill, MHS chief executive.
“If the MHS cannot provide an inspection service at any plant, then meat produced from that plant cannot legally be sold for human consumption,” he said.
The strike follows a dispute which began when meat inspectors received a 3.65% pay-rise from the Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF).
The inspectors are holding out for more money, claiming that employees of other MAFF agencies have received a wage increase of 4.7%.