SIPTU Manufacturing Division Organiser, Teresa Hannick, said: “The number of protests taking place at processing plants has increased in recent days, with blockades now widespread. This is a situation which is impacting on hundreds of our members who are now facing the loss of their jobs due to a dispute over which they have no control.

“Talks involving all the parties directly involved in this dispute is the only way in which a solution will be found. Our members are calling on all sides in this dispute to begin serious negotiations to find a swift and just conclusion to this situation.”

She added: “Our members working in beef processing plants have endured lay-offs and loss of earnings since the commencement of these protests. They now face the very real possibility of losing their jobs due to production ceasing in some plants for an extended period.

“In these circumstances, it is extremely regrettable that Meat Industry Ireland has refused a written request from our union to meet with representatives to discuss the threat to the livelihood of our members resulting from this dispute.”