Trade union calls for quick meat industry response

Covid committee recommendations

Henry Bauress

Reporter:

Henry Bauress

Email:

henry.bauress@leinsterleader.ie

Kildare Chilling plant in Kildare town to suspend operations due to Covid-19

Kildare Chilling

 

SIPTU trade union representatives have called for the faster implementation of the recommendations of the Oireachtas Special Committee on the Covid-19 Response in relation to the meat industry, which were released today, Friday, October 9.

Kildare has a number of meat plans, including Kildare Chilling, O’Brien’s Fine Foods and Irish Dog Foods.

 

SIPTU Manufacturing Division Organiser, Greg Ennis, said: “Among the positive recommendations of the Oireachtas Special Committee on the Covid-19 Response is that there must be sick pay provision in the meat processing industry. It further recommends that provision of such sick pay should be linked to any future work permits being granted.

 

“We also welcome that the Committee has endorsed the SIPTU proposal that Covid-19 Compliance Officers should be introduced to the sector.

 

“However, the proposed timeline of up to six months for implementation of these most important recommendations, which would have a direct impact on decreasing Covid-19 transmission within the meat processing industry, does not fully recognize the urgency of these matters. It is also unfortunate that the Committee has not taken the opportunity to recommend a direct employment model within the sector as will be the case in Germany from 1st January 2021.”

 

He added: “Meat processing is a highly profitable industry, with some companies recording billions of euros in turnover each year. These companies need to recognize the true value of their employees by implementing improved pay, sick pay and pension provisions across the meat and food processing sector. This would ensure that workers are not forced to attend work if feeling unwell and would not have to travel to work in car pools during a pandemic. It would also assist in avoiding the current unsafe practice of multiple workers sharing rooms in often substandard accommodation. There is a greater urgency needed in implementing these essential changes if the meat processing industry is not to once again become a major source of Covid-19 infection outbreaks.”