Defending Meat Inspection Workers

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2011 Local Government Service Group Conference
25 February 2011

This Conference notes the vital job which is done by Food Standards Agency meat inspectors, inspecting every piece of meat produced in Britain.

However these civil servants work in appalling conditions with UNISON 2011 survey revealing that 64% have been bullied in the last 2 years, and 40% have had time off as a consequence. A recent Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation found widespread exploitation and bullying of migrant workers in the wider meat industry.

Conference notes the Food Standards Agency’s declared aim of introducing plant-employed inspectors instead of independent state inspectors, and believes that this ‘self-regulation’ will lead to lower standards, dangers to public health, and attacks to pay and conditions of meat inspection workers. The use of vulnerable migrant workers and private contract agencies is exacerbating this.

Conference also notes the Next Generation Human Resources project in the Civil Service, which aims to standardise HR policies, and attack hard-won terms and conditions. This is alongside a two-year pay-freeze.

Conference believes that the Food Standards Agency, instead of prioritising protecting consumers, too often operates in the interests of the industry leading to low standards, a lack of support for meat inspectors and vets, and widespread bullying and high levels of personal injury.

Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to:

1)Campaign to break the pay freeze;

2)Support members in FSA, OFSTED, CQC, CAFCASS and elsewhere by seeking collective bargaining rights at a civil service-wide level;.

3)Use the media to expose abuses of staff and low standards;

4)Organise migrant and other workers employed by private contract agencies;

5)Bargain to raise the terms and conditions of contract workers;

6)Campaign at UK, EU and international level to protect high meat inspection standards;

7)Develop an alliance for a manifesto for meat inspection promoting quality service and decent working lives for staff.