Covid-19 cluster prevention precautions ‘were not enforced’ – TD

Pleas from the government for people not to apportion blame over Covid-19 outbreaks at meat factories “is a self-serving cry for people not to blame government”, according to Sinn Féin.

Commenting on the matter, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, Employment and Workers’ Rights, Louise O’Reilly, said:

“There have been constant warnings to the government from workers, trade unions and politicians about the difficulties Covid-19 presents for workers in meat plants.

“This is because of poor working conditions, poor workers’ rights protections, no sick pay, a lack of inspections and oversight of working conditions by the Health and Safety Authority [HSA], and a lack of adherence to recommended health and safety criteria by some factories,” she claimed.

We all know that there will be instances of Covid-19 in workplaces – but the necessary precautions to minimise outbreaks and prevent clusters have not been enforced by the government.

“This is not good enough – workers in food and meat-processing plants need action to protect their health all of the time, not just in times of crisis.”

Deputy O’Reilly welcomed news that SIPTU has an agreement with representatives of the meat industry for a new system of rapid Covid-19 testing for meat factory workers.

“But trade unions and workers should not have been left to fight this battle by themselves while the government attempted to take a back seat,” she added.

We need to get to the root cause of what is happening in meat and food processing facilities to understand what caused these clusters and make sure that the lessons from this are learned.

“There are very real failures here, which need to be called out in order to tackle the root cause of these issues, now and into the future.

“Only those who are guilty do not like blame being apportioned,” the TD concluded.