Social Democrats TD for Cork South-West and party spokesperson for Agriculture, Holly Cairns, has expressed concern that the agreement reached today between Meat Industry Ireland and SIPTU on safety protocols for workers in meat plants does not include provision for sick pay.
“The aim of this agreement is to suppress Covid-19 infections in factories and it contains long overdue measures, including serial testing of meat plant workforces, mandatory PPE and stringent hygiene controls.
“Needless to say, this should have happened months ago. The outbreaks in meat plants have been some of the worst clusters, which have had serious impacts on workers and local communities.
“I also welcome the establishment of worker/employer forums to ensure full compliance and address issues as they arise – this sector needs considerably more transparency.
“However, it is disappointing that the agreement does not include sick pay for workers. We know from experience that this puts people at risk. Those who can’t get sick pay are considerably less likely to come forward if they are experiencing symptoms.
“In other countries there has been a ban on subcontracting – so why isn’t Ireland taking the same approach? Why does Meat Industry Ireland continue to get away with treating people so badly? Why isn’t the Government intervening?
“There has been another outbreak in a plant – this time in Waterford – and yet again it hasn’t been closed. We’ve seen entire counties closed as a result of this in the past.
“We are all paying a high price for the meat industry’s shortcomings and Government inaction.”
September 18, 2020