NFU Scotland is warning that a potential strike next week by the Meat Hygiene
Service (MHS), as part of the local authority pension dispute, could cause
enormous disruption and damage to the Scottish livestock industry.
NFU Scotland understands MHS is considering industrial action throughout
next week and that it may be the only public sector body on strike. This
follows the one-day walk out of staff today (Tuesday 28 March), which caused
disruption in meat plants across Scotland.
John Kinnaird, NFU Scotland President, said:
"We cannot underestimate how much disruption this industrial action
could cause to the Scottish meat industry. The knock-on effects will be hugely
damaging. We have already seen Hall's at Broxburn, the only pig processing
facility left in Scotland, stating that is could go bust if this action goes
ahead. That would be a disaster for the 1000 people employed by the company
and for the whole Scottish pigs industry which would lose its only Scottish
"Other plants will be unable to operate in the absence of meat inspectors,
yet will still face daily running costs that could lead to them being unable
to re-open again at the end of the industrial action and the permanent loss
of processing capacity within Scotland
"Consumers could also face a shortage of supply of quality Scottish
meat. Contracts could be sourced elsewhere, displacing quality Scotch product
"Animal welfare could also be an issue for farmers on the ground. If
pig farmers, for example, are unable to send stock to abattoirs, they will
be forced to keep them on farm, leading to potential overcrowding.
"I have already raised this with the Executive. Agriculture cannot
afford to become the pawn in a dispute between public sector workers and
government. This issue must be resolved immediately otherwise we risk losing
jobs and capacity in the UK's largest manufacturing industry."
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