Concern over vet strike implications

​Newry and Armagh DUP assemblyman, William Irwin MLA, has said he has concerns over the wider implications of the looming departmental vet strike in Northern Ireland.
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NIPSA and GMB have informed the department that their members in the Veterinary Service Animal Health Group have been called out on strike for a period of five days from 30 October.

Speaking after discussions with the Northern Ireland Chief Veterinary official and other DAERA officials, Mr Irwin said the strike would have implications for a wide range of agri-food industry stakeholders.

Mr Irwin said: “There is no doubt this strike will cause serious disruption to the department’s necessary veterinary and animal health interventions, such as inspections at meat plants. This disruption will be felt strongly and when we consider for instance that some 2.5million chickens are slaughtered each week, without the input of the inspection and monitoring Veterinary staff, there will obviously be very significant implications for the industry.”

William Irwin MLA.William Irwin MLA.
William Irwin MLA.

Mr Irwin added: “It is important the department provides an assessment of the likely impact as quickly as possible and attempts to put in place mitigations where that might be possible. DAERA are working within very difficult financial constraints, as are other departments, but the impact of this strike action on the agri-food sector will be felt virtually immediately.

“Everyone will want to see this resolved as quickly as possible and I will remain in contact with the Chief Vet over coming days to monitor the situation.”

Retail NI has also expressed concern that significant disruption could be caused to its members by the planned industrial action.

Retail NI Chief Executive, Glyn Roberts, said: “We have real concerns that this five-day strike could cause significant disruption to many of our wholesale and retail members that rely on Sanitary and Phytosanitary inspection facilities.

“With the new Windsor Accord arrangements still bedding in, and Christmas only around the corner, the timing of this strike for the local retail sector could not have come at a worse time. We cannot afford to have strikes like this disputing our local economy any further and hope that an agreed way forward on pay can be found.”