02 February 1999
Meat inspectors to strike again
by FWi staff
MEAT inspectors are planning to strike again after disrupting meat production for 24 hours at abattoirs across the country.
Up to 1000 inspectors walked out yesterday (Tuesday) in a pay dispute with the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS), causing problems at slaughterhouses and processing plants.
The inspectors say an imposed pay increase of 3.65% is not enough to compensate for the abuse they suffer with while doing their job.
A survey last year uncovered horrifying levels of violence and intimidation aimed at meat inspectors by abattoir bosses.
More than 50% of inspectors reported being attacked or verbally abused with 10% who returned questionnaires claiming they had been threatened with a weapon.
The government agreed to introduce protection measures to prevent bullying and assault but the inspectors say the latest pay offer is derisory.
A further two-day strike will be called unless MHS officials agree to pay talks, said a spokesman for the public service union, Unison.
A three-day walkout will follow unless an imposed pay increase of less than 4% is increased in line with the 4.7% received by other MAFF agency employees, he added.
Two of the big four supermarket chains said yesterdays strike failed to disrupt supplies of meat to retailers.
But the big worry for farmers is that a backlog of livestock ready for slaughter could soon build up on farms if the industrial action escalates.