Embargo: For immediate Release
Date: Fri 21 November 2008
Britain’s meat hygiene inspectors have voted two to one in favour of strike action in a dispute over cuts to overtime payments and the introduction of a "work anytime" system.
The inspectors, members of UNISON, who make sure that the meat on our plates is safe to eat, voted in favour of strike action by 65.7% to 34.3%. They also voted by 79.5% to 20.5% for action short of a strike.
A strike in the meat hygiene service would seriously disrupt supplies of meat to supermarkets in the crucial pre-Christmas period.
Simon Watson, UNISON National Officer for Meat Inspectors, said:
"This is a decisive vote for strike action and shows the strength of feeling of meat inspectors. Unless the employers abandon their plans and get back around the table to negotiate a settlement, the industry could lose millions of pounds in lost meat production in the run up to Christmas."
UNISON Scotland Regional Officer Joe Lynch said:
"In Scotland we have demonstrated a high quality of meat inspection. This is another attack on that. Our members feel demoralised about how they been treated, given their commitment to this vital public service over the years.
"UNISON meat inspectors were originally part of local authority environmental health departments, so they have seen plenty of change and are not scared of it. However the changes proposed - which involve taking away their terms and conditions - is a step too far."
The union meets on Monday (24 November) to discuss the next steps.
Notes for editors:
UNISON represents 1000 members of the Meat Hygiene Service, who inspect red meat, white meat, and poultry plants across the UK.
The MHS is a UK agency, and around 160 UNISON members are meat inspectors working for the MHS in Scotland. They are based across the country in 26 major abbatoirs from Carlisle to Orkney. They inspect and certify meat as fit for human consumption after it has been slaughtered.
Please also see previous news release:
Strike threat to meat inspections warns UNISON, 3 Nov 2008
For further information please contact:
Sophie Madden – UNISON Press Office – 07957 505 675
Joe Lynch (Regional Organiser - Scottish Meat Inspectors) 07958 121 063(m)