Unison concerned over MHS cuts in wake of FMD

Unison is urging ministers to reconsider axing meat inspector jobs as abattoirs face a backlog in the wake of FMD.

The Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) has been carrying out a review of its staffing levels and is planning to cut 130 jobs this year- 10% of the workforce.

Unison has warned that this has left the MHS understaffed, especially with the backlog of work created by FMD. The union claimed that in some cases inexperienced contract workers have been brought in to replace trained meat inspectors who were made redundant.

Ben Priestley, Unison's national officer for meat hygiene, said: "With a backlog soon to face the abattoirs, and millions of pounds to the industry being lost, now is the time to support our Meat Hygiene Service, not cut it."

Employers within the meat sector have said that some of the redundancies will be replaced with contract inspectors on lower salaries, but Unison has concerns over slipping standards.

"Our concern is that even before the review commenced the MHS was already cutting back staff," said Priestley

"That has not been done with agreement of the union and in a context of any agreed staffing methodology. As far as we can see it has been done to save money and of course that has ramifications when services are left either short changed or short handed."

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