Department and Veterinary Ireland table agreement on dispute

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Veterinary Ireland (VI) have concluded an agreement relating to current issues of dispute between them and the provision of new arrangements for the delivery of the meat inspection service.

The proposed agreement will be balloted upon by Veterinary Ireland over the course of the next three weeks, to conclude no later than February 1, 2019.

Veterinary Ireland is to recommend acceptance of the agreement to its members.

In the interim, meat inspections will continue in accordance with current operational arrangements, a department spokesperson has said.

‘Delay’

Engagement has remained ongoing with all parties concerned since the matter escalated earlier last month.

However, last week a source claimed to AgriLand that despite talks taking place between the sides, reaching a resolution had become even more cumbersome as an individual close to the process was away on annual leave.

Responding to this claim, the department outlined today (Monday, January 14) that: “Government officials were available and working throughout the Christmas period to bring about a resolution to this matter.”

It is understood that difficulties arose in the first instance because of a court case between all parties that has been ongoing for the past 15 years and centres around the employment status of Temporary Veterinary Inspectors (TVIs) in Ireland.

Work-To-Rule

VI says there is a “worrying shortage” of TVIs on meat factory panels because they were closed by the department in 2012 and subsequently never reopened. The representative body wants new TVIs to be recruited on the same terms that current inspectors are on.

The ongoing work-to-rule action over this issue has resulted in significant meat processing delays at a number of factories.

Industry reaction

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has issued a statement welcoming the conclusion of an agreement between DAFM and Veterinary Ireland on the TVI dispute.

The Ibec group said it hopes that it will see an immediate restoration of cover so that normal processing activity can be undertaken.

“It is regrettable that so much disruption to a number of plants took place over the last month which has given rise to significant costs and lost business for those operations,” a spokesperson for the group added.

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