Meat inspections across Britain could be hit by a 72h strike in the run up to Christmas, public sector union Unison has warned.
Around 1,000 meat inspectors will be balloted for strike action after their employers refused an agreed rise unless they accepted sweeping cuts to overtime payments and adopted a ‘work anytime’ system, claimed Unison.
If it goes ahead, strike action could severely disrupt meat production, including deliveries of meat to supermarkets.
The union is also urging the Meat Hygiene Service to tackle what it considers to be a culture of bullying and harassment in abattoirs. A survey carried out by Unison revealed 77% of staff had witnessed bullying or harassment, with 59% personally experiencing it while at work.
Simon Watson, Unison national officer for meat inspectors, said: “Meat inspectors work hard to make sure the meat on our plates is safe to eat. But they are being pushed to the limit by excessive workloads, staff shortages and totally unacceptable levels of bullying and harassment. On top of all this, staff are now being denied an agreed pay rise unless they accept sweeping cuts to overtime payments and change to a work anytime system.”
A consultative ballot of Unison meat hygiene inspector members last month reportedly showed that 83% were in favour of strike action.