SIPTU Manufacturing Division Organiser, Greg Ennis, said: “In what was a frank and robust meeting it was agreed that SIPTU and Meat Industry Ireland (MII) representatives will seek to engage with the HSE to discuss the necessary improvements to testing protocol at meat plants. This will focus on delivering quicker testing and results with a view towards protecting meat workers from infection while maintaining continuity in production.
“MII representatives also agreed to consider a SIPTU Charter outlining the protections needed for meat workers in relation to Covid-19 emergency. It was decided to reconvene our meeting later this month once MII has had an opportunity to consult with its membership on the adoption of the measures contained in the SIPTU Meat Workers’ Charter.
“SIPTU members remain extremely concerned about the current situation in the Irish meat processing industry with its unacceptably high rates of infection of workers, which is running at approximately 10%. While meat maybe a perishable product, workers are not. An unbridled drive for turnover and profit within the meat industry must not be allowed to compromise the primary importance of the health of its workers and the wider community.”
He added: “There is nothing wrong with an industry making reasonable profits but this cannot be at the expense of the safety of workers. SIPTU is committed to ensuring that meat industry workers will receive fair recognition for the work that they do in this labour intensive industry, by way of improved pay and sick pay. The existing relatively poor terms and conditions are proving to be key vectors in the transmission of Covid-19 in the meat industry.”