Almost 100 workers employed by a private veterinary practice in Wales plan on striking for improved pay and conditions, marking the first time strike action has been planned by workers in the veterinary sector in the UK.

Strike action is planned day and night for two weeks from 16 July by Valley Vets workers in roles including veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, receptionists and animal care assistants.

The union has said that the strike will “severely impact Valley Vets operations” and the body is prepared to “escalate” if the dispute is not resolved.

The chain of practices is owned by the Vet Partners group and is focused on small animal veterinary services.

'Door is open'

The British Veterinary Union - affiliated to Unite - maintains “the door is open to restart negotiations” to avoid industrial action.

Unite stated that the lowest paid staff at Valley Vet practices were offered a “derisory pay rise” that takes them “slightly above the minimum wage”.

Higher paid employees have been offered increases of between 1% and 1.5% from April 2024, which is below inflation.

Some 80% of the chain’s staff report to have to regularly borrow money to meet basic living costs and 5% report as having had to use food banks, Union has claimed.

Regional officer with Unite Paul Seppman suggested that the strike could “still be avoided, but only if the company returns with an acceptable offer”.

“These workers are being forced to strike over poverty pay and this hugely wealthy company’s refusal to pay a living wage and provide reasonable terms and conditions,” he said.

The union has also stated that workers are seeking fair fees for clients of the practice, whose owner Vet Partners recorded gross profits of £553m in 2023.