Members of the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) are set to strike for five days, disrupting Northern Ireland’s ports and abattoirs.
NIPSA members working across the veterinary service in the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) will protest the decision to impose a derisory pay award of £552 to all civil servants in Northern Ireland for 2022/2023.
The strike will commence from Monday, October 30, and last until Friday, November 3, with NIPSA stating the action will be “significant” and disrupt the normal running of ports and abattoirs.
Members working in ports will walk out at midnight and will then be joined by hundreds of members across the Veterinary Service Animal Health Group (VSAHG).
Vets serve as inspectors in abattoirs for veterinary examinations of animals, and carry out assessments of adherence to rules by those who run it.
NIPSA’s general secretary, Carmel Gates, said: “Our members are fed up with derisory pay awards.
“They see their counterparts elsewhere on these islands receive significantly better pay and are no longer prepared to suffer in silence.
“They have been subjected to a sanctions budget which is intended to punish politicians. Unfortunately, it is workers and public services that are being harmed.”
Gates said there is a real and growing crisis in DAERA, with problems recruiting and retaining staff in the VSAHG, and the key reason is “historically low pay”.
“The latest paltry pay award, following decades of austerity and below inflation pay awards, is a further kick in the teeth to all hard-working civil servants,” she said.
“These members play a vital role in ensuring we have a safe food supply. Political decision makers have the power to address this issue by making the funds available to end pay inequality.
“There must now be urgent engagement with NIPSA and a commitment to provide the funds needed to resolve the dispute.”