Meat factories have had to turn farmers with fit cattle away today (Tuesday, December 18) due to Temporary Veterinary Inspectors (TVIs) refusing to do “more than their contract hours”.

A number of factories have been affected by the action, which is believed to come about due to insufficient TVIs employed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

This meant that veterinary officials have been required to do well over their contracted hours to fulfil schedules, according to Veterinary Ireland.

The industrial action has taken place over the past two days in some factories, causing production lines to only operate on half capacity today and yesterday.

Further factories could be affected next week in addition, according to sources.

Conor Geraghty of Veterinary Ireland stated to AgriLand that all Temporary Veterinary Inspectors (TVIs) are going to work as normal.

He stressed that vets have not withdrawn their services but are just fulfilling their contracted hours.

“The problem is in 2011 the department closed the panels and now don’t have enough vets.

They depend on the goodwill of vets in some factories to work double and triple shifts during busy periods.

“When the department backed out of the deal last Tuesday, a significant number of TVIs decided that goodwill was not requited and decided to work their contract only hours,” he said.

The action occurred due to a breakdown in talks between Veterinary Ireland and the Department of Agriculture, which were thought to have been resolved last week.

Taking place on one of the busiest weeks of the year on the run up to Christmas, the delay is likely to cause a considerable backlog for throughput for the coming weeks.

Further updates will follow.