Meat hygiene inspectors strike for fair pay

Date: Mon 25 August 2014

Meat hygiene inspectors, vets and support staff are embarking on two days of strike action from tomorrow (Tuesday) in a long-running dispute over pay.

Two four-hour walkouts are scheduled to take place, from 6.30am-10.30am on Tuesday, August 26, and again on Wednesday, August 27.

The decision follows a ballot earlier this month, which saw UNISON’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) members overwhelmingly vote for strike action over an imposed pay offer of just 0.75%, while most other public service workers have been offered a 1% increase.

UNISON has previously invited the FSA to resolve the pay dispute through independent conciliation. Even as late as last week, UNISON asked them to reconsider and go to ACAS for arbitration, but they refused.

Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland’s Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, said: “Meat inspectors, official veterinarians and support staff cost each person in the country just 38 pence per year. When you consider that since April 2012, they have prevented over a million instances of diseased animal carcasses from entering the food chain, it’s a small price to pay for safer food.

“Staff in slaughterhouses work in some of the most dirty, difficult and stressful conditions, surrounded by blood and faeces, to keep the public safe from contaminated meat. To add insult to injury, they are not even being offered the miserly one per cent increase that has been offered to other public service workers. These workers should be recognised for the vital role they play in safeguarding the human food chain against harmful and repulsive dirt and diseases – they deserve a fair pay rise.”


Notes to editors

  1. UNISON is Scotland largest trade union. We represent the operational workforce of the Food Standards Agency – predominately meat inspectors and vets working in abattoirs and meat plants. We also represent Environmental Health Officers who inspect food premises and undertake food sampling.
  2. Further information can be found here:

  3. UNISON Scotland investigated the impact of cuts on local authority environmental health departments and at the Food Standards Agency. Two surveys of UNISON members confirmed our warnings that cuts are putting public health at risk. The full briefing can be read here:

  4. There has been growing concern over the way the FSA handles food safety across the UK. It’s part of the reason why Scotland is in the process of establishing a separate body, although many of the problems are likely to remain here as well.

UNISON broadly welcomes the main provisions of Food Standards (Scotland) Bill which aims to establish Food Standards Scotland and amend the law in relation to food. Dave Watson, UNISON head of campaigns and bargaining, gave oral evidence to the Scottish Parliament Health Committee on the Food Standards Bill on 10 June 2014. Our full written submission can be read here