Will Strikes Affect UK Meat Industry?

UK - Tomorrow (Wednesday 30 November) UNISON members in the UK are planning to strike over pensions. TheCattleSite looks at how this might affect cattle producers, abattoirs and markets.
calendar icon 29 November 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

Planned industrial action across government by public service workers may mean the Food Standards Agency does not operate in licensed premises, affecting the meat hygiene inspection regime.

Ahead of tomorrow's strike, the National Farmers' Union (NFU) is advising farmers to call abattoirs and livestock agents and to consider alternative arrangements if necessary.

Joseph Keating, NFU Livestock Advisor said that it is difficult to gage the effects of the strike, as no one knows who will turn up for work and who won't.

However he said that the NFU would be working to ensure that animal welfare is not neglected.

"We will be working closely with abattoirs and the industry to ensure that any livestock left in layerage will be provided with adequate food and water."

Chris Dodds, Executive Secretary of the Livestock Auctioneers Association said that strikes are likely to have a bigger impact than we expect.

He said that markets were busy liaising with abattoir customers and prime animal buyers to see if there is enough demand to hold markets tomorrow, and secondly if there is demand, markets are looking at the possibility of limiting the livestock sold, to reflect the situation.

Mr Dodds said that markets will do as much as they can to assist abattoirs, and that where facilities are available and markets are not in breach of any rules and regulations cattle can be held in layerage. He said that markets that do have facilities in place to house stock are well placed to ensure bedding, feed and water is provided to all animals.

He said that the strikes will definitely have an effect on the meat industry, as at this time of year abattoirs are building up stocks for the Christmas and holiday season demand.

"One day out of the supply chain is quite dramatic."

He said that he is confident that by talking with abattoirs and buyers, markets will be able to find a solution to the problem. However he feels that abattoirs might struggle to keep up with a consistent supply.

The Food Standards Agency has said it will also work with the industry to minimise potential disruption to production in meat plants.

Mr Dodds had heard that 95 per cent of DEFRA will be on strike tomorrow.

The Rural Payments Agency has said that it is likely to be affected by the strike.

“Cattle farmers who use the British Cattle Movement Service will still be able to use the Cattle Tracing System Online service and the self-service telephone line to apply for cattle passports and report movements. The RPA website will be available for anyone who requires general information."

For now it appears that the full extent of the industrial action will not be known until Wednesday.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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