Fears of supply chain meltdown as Northern Irish vets and meat inspectors strike over pay

Strike action by Northern Irish vets and meat inspectors next week will disrupt supply chains and cause chaos, according to the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA).

No slaughter of cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry will take place for five days from Monday (30 October) across the whole of NI as veterinary staff walk out of ports in a row over pay.

The BMPA said the strike will immediately spark three major issues: animal welfare, farmers unable to sell livestock and the widespread disruption of supply chains.

Nick Allen, BMPA CEO, said: “This is a particular worry as we enter the busiest period of the year in the run up to Christmas when our members are preparing festive products like hams and pigs-in-blankets for the Christmas market.”

The group said it could also prove sensitive for the UK government, which is currently working on an agreement with the DUP over the Windsor Framework.

Strike action could expose the scale of border checks that are still needed to get food from the UK mainland to Northern Ireland – even through the new ‘green lane’ – and will demonstrate that the Irish Sea border has not been removed.

Nichola Mallon, Logistics UK’s head of trade and devolved policy, said the supply chain was complex and could not be “turned on and off like a tap”: “Given the volume of food moving from GB to NI via the red lane, next week’s planned industrial action by NI vets and meat inspectors could be highly disruptive to businesses and consumers,” she said.

“It is essential that negotiations continue and every effort is made locally and by the UK government to put in place contingency arrangements that minimise the impact on NI businesses and consumers.”
In a statement, NI’s department of agriculture, environment and rural affairs said there was the potential for “significant disruption” next week.

“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,” it said.

“The department very much hopes that a resolution to the current position on NI civil service pay can be found as soon as possible.”

The post Fears of supply chain meltdown as Northern Irish vets and meat inspectors strike over pay appeared first on Motor Transport.

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