Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has reminded meat and dairy processors “of their absolute obligation” to put contingency measures in place at processing plants to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Speaking on RTE Radio 1 today, Wednesday, March 25, Minister Creed was reacting to the news that a number of employees in two Northern Irish meat plants had walked out. These workers cited safety concerns around Covid-19 as the reason for the action.
“I had a conversation earlier with my colleague in Northern Ireland, [the north’s agriculture minister] Edwin Poots, who appraised me of this issue, and we obviously would be concerned,” said Minister Creed.
I have spoken to the meat industry executives and indeed the dairy executives, and told them of their absolute obligation to put in place contingency measures in all of their facilities.
These measures involve, the minister said, “insofar as is possible in a work environment, to comply with the protocols of social distancing, hand washing, etc.
“I have asked my officials to follow this up with the industry to ensure that we can keep this food supply chain working,” Minister Creed said.
He added: “That’s our critical function in this current challenge that we’re going through – that there will be food on our supermarket shelves, and I am confident from the engagement I’ve had with the industry down here that they are taking all the necessary steps.”
Workers at two of Northern Ireland’s biggest agri-food processing sites walked out earlier today over fears their health was being put at risk.
At least 150 workers are understood to have staged a walkout at Moy Park’s site at Seagoe in Portadown after workers accused the company of putting profits before safety.
A further 80 are also said to have walked out at ABP’s facility in Lurgan.