Meat industry ‘strongly refutes’ MRCI claims on safety and employment

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has strongly refuted claims made by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) regarding health and safety practices in the meat sector.

In a statement today (Wednesday, November 25), MII said:

“Meat Industry Ireland, representing primary meat processor companies, strongly refutes the claims being made by MRCI in relation to employment and health and safety practices of our sector.

“Were such practices to exist we would expect and encourage them to be reported to the proper authorities.

The primary meat processing sector is highly regulated and subject to the full rigors of employment law, with meat plants regularly inspected by officials from the Workplace Relations Commission and Health and Safety Authority [HSA] which has legislative powers to intervene.

“The findings of multiple inspections by the HSA across the industry in recent times do not support the allegations being made by MCRI.

“All employees in the sector, regardless of nationality, are protected by the same Irish employment and health and safety legislation,” MII stated.

MRCI report

Earlier today, MCRI published a report which said that many employers are “putting profit before the health and safety of workers” with “dangerous working conditions” across the meat sector in Ireland.

To compile its report, MRCI spoke to over 150 workers across 13 counties.

Employees spoken to included de-boners, cutters and trimmers, kill line operators, packing hall operators, chill room operatives, cleaners, supervisors, storage, dispatch and warehousing and lairage workers.

The report claims:
  • Almost 60% of participants said they had been injured at work;
  • 62% said they had not received enough training;
  • 87% of workers said that they had not had the opportunity to progress or be promoted since starting;
  • 90% of meat processing companies do not offer sick pay to their workers in the event of injury or illness;
  • 27% said they are not paid extra if they work overtime;
  • 28% of the workers on the lowest salaries (€12.00 and below) have been working for between four and 15 years.

Of the respondents injured at work, reported injuries include: regular lacerations and bruises; repetitive strain; chronic back pain; skin disorders; eye injuries; bone fractures; loss of fingers and limbs; burns; and respiratory problems.