Farm Ireland

Sunday 24 March 2019

Talks to resolve vets dispute recommence

Kieran Mulvey Photo: Tony Gavin
Kieran Mulvey Photo: Tony Gavin

Ken Whelan

Talks aimed at resolving an ongoing dispute between vets and the Department of Agriculture are expected to resume later this week under the chairmanship of former Labour Relations chairman, Kieran Mulvey.

However, both sides are being tight-lipped about predicting an outcome to the talks.

The industrial relations row centres on temporary vets who staff the country's meat factories and an attempt by the Department of Agriculture to alter their terms of employment.

The department has been trying to change the status of the temporary vets (TVIs) from the full-time status they enjoyed under a 1991 agreement with the department paying tax and PRSI, to "casual contracts" where they would lose the benefits of full-time contracts.

The dispute, which is at a work to rule stage, has been going on for several months and Mr Mulvey has been working to bring the sides together since August.

Veterinary Ireland has a mandate up to and including strike action if the contract issue is not resolved.

Finbarr Murphy, the head of Veterinary Ireland, told the Farming Independent this week that "reasonable progress" has been made during the Mulvey talks so far. "But we are waiting for the Department of Agriculture to reply to proposals aimed at resolving the industrial relations impasse during the talks and we are awaiting responses from the department."

The department has refused to comment on the current state of play in the talks.

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A department spokesman stated it has been in discussion for several months with Veterinary Ireland about a number of matters and "the services of Mr Kieran Mulvey have been engaged to facilitate this process, which is ongoing."

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