Vets' strike may threaten UK meat supply

If a threatened strike by vets who inspect abattoirs and meat processing plants goes ahead, the UK's supply of meat could be affected.

According to Unison, the public sector trade union, vets have voted for strike action in a dispute over union recognition with Yorkshire-based Grants Veterinary Services, one of the biggest suppliers of vets to the Meat Hygiene Service.

The vets, who work in abattoirs across the UK, have a responsibility to maintain animal welfare and ensure meat safety. However, they are threatening to walk out unless their employers recognise Unison, and end plans to cut pay, terms and conditions, as well as impose new contracts. The stoppages could affect meat production in the run-up to Christmas.

Unison claims that Grants supply 150 vets on contract to the Meat Hygiene Service, which is around 25% of the veterinary inspectors employed in the UK meat industry.

Grants claimed they had no plans to cut pay, only to impose better “harmonisation” arising from taking over a number of smaller companies. They claimed that Unison were demanding sole negotiating rights, which Grants think is unreasonable as it is not fair on staff who are not in Unison.

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