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PSA slams “inconceivable” animal testing decision

PSA slams “inconceivable” decision over animal testing

The PSA says the decision by the Animal Health Board to contract Tb cattle testing to Asure, rather than continue with Agriquality, is a cost-cutting decision that cuts right across all the other defences in place against animal disease.

“Asure is a state-owned enterprise responsible for meat inspection; that is where its skills and expertise lie. Agriquality is the state-owned enterprise set up for the purposes of laboratory work and animal health protection. It is inconceivable that these two government agencies are scrapping over Tb testing rather than getting on with the business for which they were set up,” says PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff.

“Our members are being caught up in this scrap. But it is also a quality issue. Our fear is that Asure intends carrying out the testing using staff who do not have the expertise of the livestock consultants employed by Agriquality.

“The PSA is concerned to see us moving down the low skill, low pay path, particularly when it comes to an issue of such critical importance to New Zealand’s agricultural and export industries.”

Richard Wagstaff said the union was also angry at being given no opportunity to engage in the discussions around an issue that directly affects members.

“About 50 highly skilled livestock consultants at Agriquality are now deeply worried about the future of their employment as a result of this decision by the Animal Health Board. Our biggest and most immediate concern is to ensure that they are treated fairly and well.

“But there is also the wider issue of contestability between state-owned enterprises that is driven by cost-cutting rather than the interests of New Zealand.”

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