Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Brian Stanley TD has today stressed the need for more effective oversight and quicker responses to deal with outbreaks of Covid-19 in meat processing plants to protect the health of workers, jobs and the food supply chain.
“On Thursday in the Dáil, I highlighted serious issues concerning the Rosderra Meats facility in Roscrea.
“Workers at the Roscrea plant and other plants have raised major concerns with me over the past number of weeks about the lack of proper protections being put in place to reduce the risk of Covid-19 clusters developing in their workplaces.
“The first case of a worker becoming ill in Roscrea was approximately a month ago, and given the highly contagious nature of the Covid-19 virus, comprehensive and immediate action should have been taken at that stage.
“Workers have told me, however, that physical distancing was not implemented and appropriate protective equipment was not made available until very recently. They have also complained that information was not being communicated properly to the entire workforce.
“All workers were tested on Friday, 24th and Saturday, 25th of April. However, most returned to work the following Monday and Tuesday, when those who tested positive were sent home but these workers had been working directly alongside other colleagues for two days; putting other workers at serious risk of infection.
“The figures for the rate of infection of staff there are staggering; with over 120 people testing positive and in the region of 140 out sick last week – out of a total production staff of 350.
“This fiasco underlines the need for strict enforcement of health and safety measures, and highlights the need for greater oversight and quicker responses to deal with Covid-19 outbreaks in meat plants.
“The health and safety of workers and their families has to be paramount if we want to protect jobs in the food industry and the food supply chain.”