Employees at the Kepak processing facility in Athleague, Co. Roscommon, have been seen leaving the plant “with white envelopes”, in what is suspected to be a number of redundancies at the plant.

Farmer protesters were outside the plant at the time, according to one source.

These apparent lay-offs come after a statement this morning, Tuesday, September 10, from Meat Industry Ireland (MII), in which the representative body for the processing sector said that processors are facing an “indefinite cessation of cattle slaughtering” because of the ongoing blockades.

MII noted that the vast majority of slaughtering has already been stopped and “additional ‘wildcat’ disruptions are putting the balance of facilities under threat of closure”.

“The forced closure of affected sites is resulting in the temporary lay-off of thousands of employees. It will also mean that supplier farmers are unable to sell their animals and vital customer relationships are being damaged,” the MII statement said.

Yesterday, the meat processors announced that they would adjourn their participation in the talks on the beef sector, again citing the continued blockades as the reason.

In a statement on that matter, MII said it “requested the minister [Michael Creed] and the independent chairman to use their best endeavors to have blockades lifted to enable talks”.

The MII delegation adjourned its participation in the talks until all illegal blockades are lifted.

Minister Michael Creed called on MII to reflect on their decision.

“I would make the direct point to MII: Engagement with your customers is a business imperative, and we cannot have a situation where [the processors’] refusal to engage effectively closes down the entire industry,” the minister said today.