The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has warned of the potential for significant disruption as a result of a planned five-day industrial action, week commencing 30 October by NIPSA and GMB members across Veterinary Service Animal Health Group (VSAHG).
The Department fully respects the rights of colleagues to take industrial action and regrets sincerely that the budget situation that civil servants are trying their best to manage has meant that it has not been possible to provide a meaningful pay award for NI Civil Service staff.
If strike action proceeds as has been indicated, there will be significant disruption to the delivery of many of the Department's veterinary and animal health functions, including delivery of official controls and other official activities across Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) inspection facilities, meat plants and field operations. If there is no resolution to the current pay dispute, the industrial action is likely to present issues in relation to animal health and welfare, public health and continuity of agri-food supply chains.
At this stage, DAERA VSAHG cannot guarantee that they will be able to provide their statutory services from 30 October to 03 November 2023 and would stress to operators of businesses that rely on these services the importance of activating their own business continuity/emergency plans.
The Department very much hopes that a resolution to the current position on NI Civil Service pay can be found as soon as possible.