Meat workers employed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) completed a second day of industrial action yesterday (27 August) as part of a pay dispute between the agency and members of the Unison trade union.

Meat inspectors, official veterinarians and support staff in England, Scotland and Wales walked out between 6:30am and 10:30am on Tuesday and Wednesday over the FSA’s decision to impose a 0.75% pay rise.

Unison had requested a 1% cost of living pay rise and balloted its membership of more than 500 workers earlier this month. It said its FSA members overwhelmingly voted for strike action over the imposed pay offer.

The FSA confirmed that around a quarter of its operational staff were involved in the two days of industrial action, with nine plants across Britain put out of action over the two days by the strike.

“More than 70% of plants operated as normal on both days, a spokesman said. “The remainder have been either operating different hours, on other days, are not ordinarily requiring FSA-employed inspectors, or took the decision not to operate.”

The action had been “very well supported by Unison members in slaughterhouses”, said secretary general Dave Prentis.

“Workers are angry that a quarter of their cost of living increase has been pick-pocketed by the FSA. Our members are vitally important to both the meat industry and to the consumers who they protect and this must be reflected in their pay packets.”

He added that if the FSA wanted to avoid further strikes, “it must recognise the strength of feeling amongst its staff and work with us to negotiate a fair pay settlement”.

An FSA spokesman said “most plant operators were not affected” in terms of throughput and would have opportunity to make up their production. 

“The FSA is disappointed the industrial action went ahead this week, at a time when Unison said it was still committed to talks with us. Discussions are ongoing.”