First strike at a UK private veterinary practice

NEWS AND VIEWS: This is the first strike that has ever occurred according to the union ‘Unite’ at a UK private veterinary practice and it is a consequence, allegedly, of greed by the private equity-owned operator: VetPartners, which owns the vet practice called Valley Vets in south Wales.

1% pay rise is a pay cut for vet workers at Valley Vets in south Wales owned by VetPartners
1% pay rise is a pay cut for vet workers at Valley Vets in south Wales owned by VetPartners. Image: MikeB
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This is an extension of a widely discussed issue regarding the veterinary business sector in the UK namely the purchase of independent veterinarians by private equity conglomerates which bought many UK independent practices because they could see an opportunity to increase profit margins and make more money.

These private practices, owned by the partners, were under-monetised. The veterinarian partners were primarily involved in providing an excellent service in the interests of their patients.

And then in comes private equity, I would argue that they are ‘greedy men in suits’, to tear the arse out of what were once nice businesses by upping prices dramatically to the point where they are out of reach for your typical customer. And now in line with that objectionable policy, have offered a ‘derisory’ pay rise to the staff of this veterinary practice called Valley Vets.

It’s the first strike of its kind and it comes at a time when the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced (in giving an update on its 18-month investigation into this 5 billion-a-year marketplace) that it is investigating alleged unjustified price rises within the veterinary market in the UK.

The union Unite is orchestrating the strike and they have accused the company of offering its lowest-paid staff a pay rise “that takes them to slightly above the minimum wage. Higher paid workers have been offered increases of between one and 1.5% from April this year.”

They have called the offer a “real terms pay cut” because of inflation. In defence, Vet Partners said it was committed to “sustainably improving terms and conditions, particularly given redundancies at other practices.”

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