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Pig processing may halt in Scotland following strike threat next week

Pig processing may halt in Scotland following strike threat next week

EDINBURGH: Hall of Broxburn, one of Scotland’s largest food farms, is axing 150 workers at its West Lothian plant with immediate effect. This is a sequel to the planned industrial action by Unison, representing workers engaged in public services, over pension dispute. The strike is likely to impact pig production in Scotland as there will be no inspectors to certify the processing.

The owners of Hall of Broxburn, Grampian Country Foods, warned the proposed five-day strike, which is part of the industrial action, will lead to 1000 more job losses.

However, Unison has now agreed that there will be inspectors to certify meat at the plant next week, though the strike by the meat hygiene workers will be on.

In the light of the threatened strike, the firm had said it would not be able to accept pigs at Broxburn for processing next week.

Grampian Country Foods’ managing director Cameron Davidson had warned that the strike could have threatened the survival of Halls. He said the employees understand their colleagues genuine concerns over pensions but they are “mystified as to how nine people on strike can jeopardise 1,000 jobs at Hall’s and the future of the pig industry across Scotland”.

The plant processes up to 12,000 pigs each week.

The Grampian Country Foods Group has already closed down the only other large pig processing plant in Scotland at Buckie 12 months ago. If Halls too closes down, Scottish pig producers will have to find other outlets in England for their processing needs.

The Scottish pig herd, once known as the most technically efficient in the European Union, has been facing sharp decline in recent years because of higher welfare standards. Producers have to either invest in new equipment and facilities or quit the industry. Many have opted to leave it.

The pension dispute had seen some 200,000 government workers striking work in Scotland Tuesday last.

The Meat Hygiene Service employs 184 staff in Scotland, including 155 inspectors. Of these, 160 are Unison members. Hall’s uses nine Meat Hygiene Service members as meat inspectors at the Broxburn plant.

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