Vets under pressure to halt work-to-rule action
Disruption to processing will lead to animal welfare issues, claims MII
Farm organisations and meat processors have called for a resumption of talks to end a 'work-to-rule' protest by temporary veterinary inspectors (TVIs) which is seriously disrupting operations at slaughter plants.
Meat factories claim the dispute is continuing to curtail the processing of animals for slaughter - particularly pigs - and concerns have been raised that cull cow disposals will be impacted from next week.
The vets voted for work to rule last May when the Department of Agriculture attempted to change their employment conditions from normal employee status (paying tax and welfare contributions on their work) to casual employee status.
Vets were also concerned that retiring TVIs were not being replaced. Veterinary Ireland chief executive Finbarr Murphy claimed this week that the sector was down some 200 positions which have not been filled by the Department.
Compromise proposals worked out by former chairman of the Labour Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey, before the Christmas break were broadly accepted by both sides.
However, a late intervention by the Department of Public Enterprise and Reform, saying the deal contravened public sector pay and recruitment guidelines, scuppered this initiative.
Cormac Healy of the processors group Meat Industry Ireland (MII) told the Farming Independent that meat processing - especially pig processing - was feeling the effects of the industrial action.
"Disruption to normal pig processing will quickly lead to animal welfare issues at farm level," he warned.