Press Release

SIPTU says government must address recurring Covid-19 outbreaks in meat processing plants

Date Released: 26 January 2021

Following reports of two more significant Covid-19 clusters in Cork and Wexford, with more than 100 workers testing positive for the virus, SIPTU Manufacturing Division Organiser, Greg Ennis, has called on the Government to act immediately on the recommendations of the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 for the Meat Industry. He also questioned the accuracy of the numbers of infections among its workers which have been disclosed by the industry over the last ten months.

“The Government has failed to act on the recommendations from the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 for the Meat Industry. The key recommendations called for mandatory sick pay in the meat processing sector and other low paid jobs, the granting of work permits to be conditional on sick pay provision, installation of Covid-19 compliance officers in the workplace and the routine testing of meat plant workers with results delivered within twenty-four hours”.

“The Tánaiste’s commitment to put sick pay on a statutory footing by the end of this year is too little and very late. We need legislative measures to be taken now on sick pay provision. It rings hollow with these employees, their families and the wider community to be described as ‘essential workers’ by the same senior politicians who have failed to act on Oireachtas recommendations made last October. We are calling again for the creation of a ‘farm to fork’ taskforce to address the failings that have come to light in the low paid meat and food production sectors during the pandemic.

“Due to the dangers posed by the highly transmissible variants of Covid-19 across the globe, the issue of quarantine on arrival into the island must be finally and conclusively addressed. This is vital in low paid sectors where so many migrant workers are employed. Many workers and their union representatives believe the numbers who have contracted the virus across the meat industry in Ireland is far greater than those disclosed.”


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