Food Standards Agency workers call for fair pay

Workers who play a critical role in making sure our food is safe to eat are undervalued and overworked, delegates at UNISON’s local government conference were told.

Meat hygiene inspector and UNISON member John Rowlands said: “Our pay is under attack. For the last 13 years, we’ve had meagre pay rises”.

Another delegate, who inspects chickens, added: “I can no longer afford life’s basics, let alone life’s luxuries”.

As well as fighting for fairer pay, UNISON members within the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are also battling privatisation and outsourcing.

Mr Rowlands said that UNISON needs to recruit more members within the FSA and among its contractors. To do this, he said, “we must continue to do what works – negotiate and fight for our members.”

Delegates carried a motion calling on the service group executive to:

  • negotiate for higher pay for members in the FSA through collective bargaining;
  • promote opportunities for members to learn new skills;
  • organise in new areas of the FSA and encourage members to become more active; and
  • oppose privatisation and deregulation of meat hygiene inspection.

The article Food Standards Agency workers call for fair pay first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON general secretary writes to the chancellor on civil service pay

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea has written to Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor of the exchequer this week, warning of the impact that this year’s Civil Service Pay Remit Guidance is having on staff in three public bodies, and calling for its review.

The guidance, which was published on 31 March, governs pay setting arrangements throughout the civil service and within that, applies to: the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the Environment Agency (EA) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) – where UNISON is the largest union.

In the letter to the chancellor and the chief secretary to the treasury, Ms McAnea argues that the guidance is “now evidently out of date and urgently needs reviewing in light of the current cost of living crisis”.

The guidance has resulted in:

  • a final pay offer of 2% plus a £345 consolidated increase, as well as some increases to allowances for EA workers;
  • a final pay offer ranging from 0-5% depending on grading in the FSA;
  • CQC negotiators approaching the Cabinet Office to seek permission to offer a higher pay award for their employees

All three bodies are facing severe recruitment and retention problems and the miserly pay offers, which the guidance limits the bodies to, will only compound those issues.

In both the FSA and the EA, the pay offers were heavily rejected by UNISON members and the union is now moving to an industrial action ballots.

In the CQC there is now evidence that employees are having to use foodbanks for the first time and it is highly likely that staff would reject a restricted offer and would move to further action.

The letter states: “UNISON takes no pleasure in moving towards industrial action. But staff are frustrated that they are not being properly rewarded for the work they do,” before highlighting the vital work that workers in these three bodies carry out.

It adds that members are not asking for much: “Just a decent and fair pay rise that keeps up with the increasing cost of living, so they can heat their homes and not have to use foodbanks.”

And Ms McAnea concludes: “On behalf of the thousands of workers in these services… I ask that the civil service pay remit guidance is reworked taking into account the significant increase in the cost of living and the impact on recruitment and retention within these organisations.”

The article UNISON general secretary writes to the chancellor on civil service pay first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON campaigns to preserve the future safety of British meat

UNISON is speaking out against changes to the way British meat will be inspected in the future by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Changes under the FSA’s Operational Transformation Programme will include removing many daily onsite inspections, which not only puts jobs at risk, but also undermines the integrity of the meat that the British public eats every day.

UNISON national officer Paul Bell said: “No one should mess with our food. Our members working for the FSA and its contractors safeguard the food on our plates day-in-day-out. Ending daily onsite inspections for all but a few slaughterhouses could jeopardise the quality and safety of our food. The FSA needs to think again.”

UNISON has launched a new film on the issue (above), as part of its Protect our Food campaign.

The union is also urging members to write to their MPs in England and Wales, asking them to contact the FSA board chair, Professor Susan Jebb – seeking that these changes be paused and the FSA speaks with the workforce, its representatives and consumer groups about a plan that will modernise without losing daily onsite inspections.

The article UNISON campaigns to preserve the future safety of British meat first appeared on the UNISON National site.

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