UK markets closed
  • NIKKEI 225

    -39.28 (-0.12%)

    -170.92 (-0.98%)

    +0.17 (+0.22%)

    +1.60 (+0.08%)
  • DOW

    +83.51 (+0.24%)
  • Bitcoin GBP

    +576.42 (+1.97%)
  • CMC Crypto 200

    +21.19 (+2.77%)
  • NASDAQ Composite

    +40.73 (+0.29%)
  • UK FTSE All Share

    -4.31 (-0.11%)

Strike action at NI ports will show reality of Irish Sea border: TUV

Lorries being checked at Larne port. Photo: Pacemaker
Lorries being checked at Larne port. Photo: Pacemaker

A number of workers at ports and vet services in NI have announced their intention to go on a five-day strike from Monday October 30 until Friday November 3.

Normal services will cease, with the unions saying both green and red lanes will be impacted.

The industrial action will affect checks being carried out in respect of animal health and welfare, public health and continuity of agri-food supply chains, in line with the terms of the post-Brexit trading arrangements agreed between the UK and EU.

TUV party treasurer and Bannside councillor Timothy Gaston said: "The strike and the disruption it looks set to create comes at a timely juncture in that it highlights the reality behind the spin.

"Unionists cannot afford to go meekly back to Stormont to implement the destruction of the UK.

"Westminster must be forced to rectify the damage it has done."

The strike action is in protest over a pay award of £552 to all civil servants in Northern Ireland for 2022/23, when inflation was above 10%.

Nipsa general secretary Carmel Gates said public sector workers have become "hostages in a conflict" between the Secretary of State and the Northern Ireland political parties.

"Their pay has become a pawn in a game," she said.

Nichola Mallon, Logistics UK's head of trade and devolved policy, said supply chains are complex and "cannot be turned on and off like a tap".

"Given the volume of food moving from GB to NI via the red lane, next week's planned industrial action by NI vets and meat inspectors could be highly disruptive to businesses and consumers," she said.

"It is essential that negotiations continue and every effort is made locally and by the UK Government to put in place contingency arrangements that minimise the impact on NI businesses and consumers."

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said they had real concerns the strike would cause "significant disruption" to its members.

"With the new Windsor Accord arrangements still bedding in and Christmas only around the corner, the timing of this strike for the local retail sector could not have come at a worse time," he said.

A spokesperson from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said the department fully respects the rights of colleagues to take industrial action and regrets sincerely that it has not been possible to provide a "meaningful pay award" for NI civil service staff.

They said: "If strike action proceeds as has been indicated, there will be significant disruption to the... 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.”