SIPTU Organiser, Terry Bryan, said: “SIPTU has been seeking financial supports from the processors to address the real hardship that many workers and their families are facing. There are currently 6,000 workers on lay-off which is directly affecting thousands of families that have bills to pay, children to feed and rent now due.
“The loan offer by the employers is interest free and will assist workers to pay for rent, mortgages and to cover living expenses. Social welfare payments are not enough to provide for families that are now in desperate need.
“We understand that there may be a tax implication as a result of the loan being seen as a ‘benefit in kind’. However, we are calling on the Government and Revenue to waive this in this instance. These loans are being used to cover basic needs and to support workers and their families at this very difficult time.”
He added: “SIPTU members are also asking the Government to make additional funding available to workers on enforced lay-offs who are in difficulty with mounting bills and rent to pay. Many workers in the industry are in rented accommodation and, if supports are not made available, it could lead to many of those workers facing homelessness.
Sector Organiser, Michael Browne, said: “We acknowledge this initiative as going someway to helping our members. However, we need to find a lasting resolution to the current crisis.
“The plants need to get back up and running, as soon as possible. Every day that the plants are not processing, the customer supply chain is not being met, the industry is losing customers, and this will have a long-term detrimental effect. If this continues, the industry will be damaged beyond repair.
He added: “Our members are out of work through no fault of their own and cannot afford to continue to be without their income. We are calling on protesters, the farmer organisations and their members to fully consider the proposals concluded by their representatives at the talks that took place last Sunday”.