Réada Cronin TD says the high Covid-19 numbers in Kildare are exposing the fault lines in society and that how we are working and living in the 21st century is unsustainable for too many.
Deputy Cronin added that the high infection rate raises serious questions about the standards the community is prepared to tolerate and the blind eye it is willing to extend to working and living conditions of vulnerable people, many of them migrants to the country.
Teachta Cronin said:
“The high Covid-19 numbers in Kildare are showing how unsustainably we are living. In food production, it is simply not possible to maximise profits and worker-numbers simultaneously at a time of pandemic, when we are all supposed to be keeping each other safe and well.
“Clearly, some of the workers involved in these high-infection rates live in difficult physical circumstances. Workers are people. They are not statistics. We cannot go on exploiting people like this in the name of profit.
“We must pay people a decent wage for decent day’s work. We must encourage the collegiate, the co-operative. We must allow them time off when they are unwell especially in this global crisis.
” Instead, we have people saying they are going to work sick and infected for fear of losing a day’s pay. It is unconscionable that people cannot rely on sick-pay in these circumstances.
“Covid in Kildare is a classic case of ‘nobody is safe until everybody is safe’. So even if people are not motivated by concern for others in demanding change to working and living conditions, they will be motivated by concern for themselves.
“These are conditions people protested against in the time of the Lock Out, and here we are over 100 years later tolerating similar situations where workers feel pressurised and exploited.
“How can we call ourselves a modern, progressive republic if people are going to work sick and infected in a global crisis because they are simply afraid? It’s the kind of fear you’d associate with working in the Third World. Not in a young country with a seat on the UN Security Council.
“Fine Gael has overseen a landlordism in housing and an old-fashioned, aren’t-you-lucky-to-have-a-job mentality when it comes to our workers. Fianna Fáil and the Greens show themselves to be no better. This is no to treat working people in the 21st century. Workers have rights. Employers have responsibilities.
“We must have respect for our workers – all our workers – with decent pay for decent work. In the Covid19 situation workers must feel supported not penalised. Anything less will spread the virus not only in those plants but across the community. We, each of us, keeps the other safe.”
“I am calling on the Government to act immediately to avert a virus crisis in Kildare. Any virus measures for our community must be health driven not politics driven. Kildare people are sensible and responsible. We will do and abide by what is right for the community. All the community. Together.”