He said: “We are extremely concerned that serial testing in meat plants has been halted by the HSE. SIPTU representatives were calling for mass testing of workers across the industry for months before it was finally commenced on 21st August. It has now emerged that the HSE has withdrawn from the meat processing plants since 8th September without providing any advance notice of its decision to workers, their union or to public representatives in the Oireachtas.
“There have been 1500 cases and 31 clusters within meat plants to date with 4 clusters currently active. Outbreaks of Covid-19 are also linked to overcrowding and hot bedding in houses located close to several meat plants.
“Failure to reconvene weekly testing of meat plant workers could well result in another surge of cases across the industry and in their wider community. It is well established that the meat industry generates the perfect vectors for transmission of the virus.
“The testing and tracing system is patently inadequate and has never achieved the 15,000 tests per day as promised on 19th March by the then Government? Six months later, we are still awaiting an efficient testing system with the winter flu season approaching. Our members are justifiably fearful for their health, their families and their livelihoods in the essential meat and wider food production sector.”