UK meat inspectors have voted in favour of strike action in a move that could limit the supply of meat and poultry to retailers in the run-up to Christmas, the union representing the workers has claimed.

Unison, the union representing about 1,000 meat hygiene inspectors throughout the UK, has confirmed that its members voted in 2-1 in favour of strike action on Friday (21 November).

The workers are protesting against changes to their working conditions and are calling for a pay rise, a Unison spokesperson told just-food.

The meat hygiene staff examine meat and poultry carcases to verify that they are fit for human consumption.

Unison's members cover the "majority" of UK slaughterhouses, the spokesperson said.

"A strike will disrupt the production line… Meat and poultry could become scarce in supermarkets and butchers shops," the spokesperson added.

While a date for the strike is yet to be set, the union did not rule out the possibility that it could be staged in the crucial pre-Christmas trading period.

Unison is conducting preliminary talks with the Meat Hygiene Service. If grievances are addressed, the strike could be averted. However, there is as yet no indication of how these talks are progressing, the spokesperson said.