Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, Employment and Workers’ Rights Louise O’Reilly TD has said the development of Covid-19 clusters in a number of meat-processing plants reinforces how high-risk the sector is.
She added that it underlines the need to implement the recommendations of the Covid-19 Committee Report which seek to protect workers in the sector.
Speaking today, Teachta O’Reilly said:
“Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, we have known that the meat processing sector is a high-risk sector. Workers in this area are at a higher risk of contracting the virus due to the nature of their work compared to workers in other sectors.
“This risk has been reinforced by the 108 cases of the virus which have been confirmed at two meat processing plants in counties Cork and Wexford.
“The Oireachtas Covid-19 Committee heard first-hand of this risk from workers and trade unions. As a result, the Committee Report made a number of substantial recommendations to protect the health and safety of these workers.
“While several changes have been enacted by companies in these sectors, and a number of changes in work practices have been delivered on the ground by workers, it is imperative that the recommendations of the Covid-19 Committee to protect workers in these sectors are also implemented.
“The report made two clear calls on the government – the delivery of a statutory sick pay scheme to cater for low paid workers such as those in meat plants, and the need to make Covid-19 a notifiable disease under health and safety regulations.
“The former needs to be escalated as a matter of urgency, and the latter can be done today by way of regulation at the stroke of the Tánaiste’s pen.
“There needs to be a collective response to these latest outbreaks including the Health and Safety Authority, the HSE, workers and trade unions, and the plants themselves.
“But the government needs to uphold its duty to protect public health and the health and safety of workers and implement the recommendations of the Covid-19 Committee Report to protect workers in high risk sectors.”