The Independent Farmers of Ireland has rejected claims by Meat Industry Ireland (MII) that it is responsible for 3,000 factory employees being put on short-term notice in recent days.

Responding to comments made by MII, a spokesperson for the group said that farmers would never wish to deprive people of employment, adding:

“We find it astonishing and totally unacceptable that MII holds the Independent Farmers at factory gates responsible for these redundancies as it was MII who walked away from the talks in Backweston on Monday last.”

The group claimed that the feeling was, had Monday’s talks gone ahead, “we would have returned to normal processing activities either today or tomorrow”.

The meat processors involved seem to be using their employees as innocent pawns in the negotiations.

“All the multinationals involved recorded very significant profits in the past 12 months and it seems most unfair and downright cynical to treat their loyal workers in such a fashion.

“If the members of MII are in any way concerned about their employees and the continuous prosperity of the Irish beef processing industry, would a return to round-table discussions not prove a faster solution?”

The Independent Farmers group stressed that Irish beef farmers are “also facing redundancy” due to a lack of margin for their product, adding that “they will receive no redundancy payments”.

Just like the factory employees, beef producers just want a fair wage for a fair day’s work.

“Farmers and MII must work together in order to provide a better future for everyone involved in the beef supply chain if it is to survive the many challenges it faces into the future.

“This current peaceful protest started because farmers wished for an equitable percentage of the entire value of the animal presented for slaughter.

“It seems however that fair distribution of profit is unlikely to occur in this industry under the current structures. New structures must be created in the Irish beef industry.

“We need transparency about all elements from farm to fork,” the group spokesperson concluded.