Meat supplies threatened by strike
Meat hygiene inspectors and vets have voted to go on strike in a long-running row over pay.
Unison, which represents around 500 employees involved in the row, warned that industrial action could hit meat supplies to supermarkets and butchers' shops.
The union said its members, employed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), voted by 63% in favour of action in protest at an imposed pay rise of 0.75%.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: "Meat inspectors and vets are a vital link in the food safety chain, protecting the public by keeping contaminated meat off our plates.
"The strike may well clear supermarket shelves and butchers' shops of meat and threaten summer barbeques. It is down to the FSA to come up with a fair offer instead of digging in their heels and refusing to negotiate.
"Working in slaughterhouses is an extremely messy and stressful job and our members will not accept another cut in the value of their wages. Imposing a pay offer is inflammatory and the result of our strike ballot makes it clear that FSA staff have had enough."
Unison is calling for an above-inflation pay increase to make up some of the 15% cut in wages it said FSA staff had suffered under the coalition Government.
A spokesman from the Food Standards Agency said: "Unison has not yet announced what action will take place as a result of the vote and the FSA is awaiting notification of its next steps.
"Should Unison decide to take strike action, our contingency plans will minimise any disruption to meat supplies. The FSA values the important role played by its frontline staff, and our work to ensure public safety in relation to food will continue."