Strike effect 'mixed' says BMPA
The impact of the meat inspectors’ strikes on 30 November has been described as ‘mixed’ by the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) and although some of its members were seriously affected, the majority were able to operate a normal service.
According to Food Standards Agency (FSA) figures, around half (49.6%) of red meat plants and poultry slaughterhouses operated normally, with 17.5% operating a reduced line speed. Only six plants (1.5%) were not able to operate as a result of the industrial action, although it is not yet known how many plants operated on an alternative day. Around a fifth (20%) of plants did not operate on Wednesday for reasons unrelated to the strike.
Fiona Steiger, policy manager at the BMPA, said: “The few plants that didn’t do a thing were very unhappy, but a lot of our members seemed to have had an okay day, with either reduced line speed or normal operation.”
“It has generally been postive feedback from my members – although there is always the exception – but generally people haven’t been too upset. They’ve been quite stoical and recognised that this isn’t the FSA’s fault and that the FSA has done what it can.”
The BMPA has previously warned that the impact may be more serious if the industrial action escalates. Although the FSA doesn’t anticipate any further industrial action until after the New Year, it is preparing a ‘lessons learnt’ review and has asked for comments on how it handled contingency planning and communication with BMPA members.
An FSA spokesperson said: “The FSA worked hard with food business operators to ensure the vast majority of plants were able to operate on the day with minimal disruption, in full compliance with food safety and animal welfare regulations.
“We put in place robust contingency plans to give plant operators the flexibility to make up for any lost production, such as operating on an alternative day, reducing line speed and throughput and, where possible, deploying operational staff to work additional hours to clear any backlogs.”