Why are vets on a work-to-rule in Irish meat factories?

The ongoing Temporary Veterinary Inspectors’ work-to-rule in Irish meat plants is set to continue, it has been outlined.

The industrial action has been ongoing since June 2018 and there has been a mediation process in place since May 2018.

The Veterinary Council of Ireland was contacted for a comment but said it had “no comment to make on the issue”.

Veterinary Ireland’s chief executive, Finbarr Murphy, explained to AgriLand what has been going on.

He outlined that an agreement had been reached between Veterinary Ireland and the Department of Agriculture with the mediator on November 21.

A final meeting was due to take place on Tuesday, December 11, to finalise the agreement. However, the mediator became aware that the department had been “drawn from” the agreement reached.

According to Murphy, the Department of Agriculture cited objection from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

He explained that Temporary Veterinary Inspectors (TVIs) are currently paid an hourly rate of €64.49 in meat factories.

Murphy continued: “Some of the difficulties are arising in the factories due to a shortage of TVIs.

The shortage is due to the moritorium of recruitment introduced by the department back at the end of 2011. Since then, there have been no new TVIs taken on.

“You have vets that have retired or deceased and they haven’t been replaced so there is a shortage that is more acute in some factories than others.”

Continuing, Murphy outlined: “We have been calling on the department to recruit more vets since 2011.

“Unfortunately, the department haven’t done so and that was one of the issues that would have been addressed by the mediation.

We are looking for the agreement hammered out with the assistance of the mediator on November 21 would be honoured.

Murphy highlighted that the deal would have resolved all outstanding TVI issues and seen new vets taken into the system which, he added, would deal with the present shortage.

Concluding, Murphy said: “We are anxious that the department engage meaningfully in the mediation process and get back to the table.”