Meat processing plants, animal export services, and animal disease surveillance work are all likely to face significant disruption next week in Northern Ireland, after vets voted to go on strike.
Members of the GMB and NIPSA unions who work in the Veterinary Service Animal Health Group are planning five days of industrial action beginning on 30 October over pay, which vets say is worse than in England and Wales.
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said it respected “the rights of colleagues to take industrial action and regrets sincerely that the budget situation that civil servants are trying their best to manage has meant that it has not been possible to provide a meaningful pay award for NI Civil Service staff.”
If strike action proceeds as has been indicated, there will be significant disruption to the delivery of many of the Department’s veterinary and animal health functions, including delivery of official controls and other official activities across Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) inspection facilities, meat plants and field operations.
“If there is no resolution to the current pay dispute, the industrial action is likely to present issues in relation to animal health and welfare, public health and continuity of agri-food supply chains,” DAERA said.