Meat hygiene inspectors threaten strike over pensions

More than 650 meat hygiene inspectors have been balloted about industrial action over pensions on 30th November, and have voted in favour of striking.

Trade union Unison, which represents  meat inspectors and other public sector workers, has called for a general ‘day of action’ in protest about the government’s proposed cuts in public sector pensions.

A spokesman said that there was no time limit on the strike and indicated that it could be “continuous”. The main concentration of the meat inspectors's strike is likely to be in the West Midlands, due to the large number of plants there.

Simon Watson, the national officer for meat hygiene inspectors at Unison, said: "We'd like to reach a negotiated settlement to avoid the need for industrial action. Our members don't want to strike, they care about their jobs. However, ministers are going too far at a time when people are already very hard pressed."

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has sent letters to all business operators about the industrial action.  

An FSA spokesman told the Meat Trades Journal: "We are working with industry to minimise potential disruption in meat plants during the planned industrial action on 30 November.

"Through the steps we are taking, we hope to ensure the meat industry will be able to process as many animals as possible, in full compliance with food safety and animal welfare legislation."

The FSA first published its pension deficit in its 2004/5 accounts. In February 2011, the deficit stood at £103m.