Concerns raised that ‘agency workers’ are being moved between food processing plants

Concerns have been raised that “agency workers” are being moved between food processing plants.

TD Jackie Cahill told AgriLand that he spoke with Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary this morning (Tuesday, August 18) telling him that there are “strong concerns and fears” that “workers supplied by agencies are being moved between processing facilities”.

‘Workers can’t move from one plant to another’

Deputy Cahill said that while the minister is “happy with the Covid-19 procedures” that are in place in particular plants, there are “worries about how much interaction there is between workers in these different facilities”.

I raised the concern with the minister this morning about workers being supplied by agencies. There needs to be protocols in place that workers can’t move from one plant to another…and if they’re working through an agency they are required to stay at one location.

“There is a view…that that’s not happening at the moment. There needs to be a strict onus on the agencies that are providing workers that there is absolutely no cross-transfer of workers.

“When we had problems with cases in the nursing homes, part of the problem was agency workers being moved from one nursing home to another.”

‘There’s up to 30 of them living in a house’

TD Mattie McGrath also told AgriLand that the “awful living conditions” of some workers are having an impact on the spread of the virus.

“It’s when they [workers] go home; there’s up to 30 of them living in a house,” deputy McGrath said.

The agencies bring workers here [to Ireland] and then they drop them. They abandon them here with no rights, no sick pay and awful living conditions.

“These agencies must come under scrutiny. They must take responsibility for their behaviour and the welfare of these workers. They barely have human rights.

“The agencies can no longer hide. They must be brought to account; we cannot have them profiting from the unfair treatment of workers which has also now led to a national health threat.”

A full cabinet meeting with the National Public Health Emergency Team will take place today to discuss the Covid-19 situation in Ireland.