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No more turkey for Christmas!

Tofurkey might be on the Christmas menu for Britains if striking meat inspectors don't get their pay.

by: Retuters: Peter Griffiths | 27 Nov 2008

Hundreds of British meat inspectors have voted to strike in a dispute that threatens to disrupt supplies of turkeys and other meat to shops in the run-up to Christmas.

Unison, Britain's biggest public sector union, said members voted by a margin of two to one in favour of industrial action in a row about overtime payments and new working patterns.

Simon Watson, Unison's national officer for meat inspectors, said a strike could lead to shortages during one the busiest periods of the year, a claim denied by the inspectors' bosses.

"Unless the employers abandon their plans and get back around the table to negotiate a settlement, the industry could lose millions of pounds in lost meat production in the run up to Christmas," he said.

Hygiene inspectors say changes to their overtime system have left them up to 100 pounds (R1530) a week worse off, he added. They are upset over a new 37-hour working week that includes overnight shifts often arranged at short notice.

The British Meat Processors Association estimated that a strike could cost the industry three million pounds.

A National Farmers Union spokesman said any action would filter through to farmers working on tight deadlines.

"We hope this situation can be resolved as soon as possible to avoid any disruption to the Christmas market and our farmer members who will have invested a great deal of time and effort preparing for it," he said.

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