The Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) is calling for all parties in the beef sector to come together and bring an end to the farmer protests, as meat plant workers continue to struggle from the fallout.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1, SIPTU organiser Jason Palmer said that the disruption at plants around the country was resulting in workers in those factories being temporarily laid off, something he said was “unsustainable”.

He added that representatives of the meat industry had, so far, not been in touch with SIPTU about the situation facing plant workers.

What’s going to come in the coming weeks is unknown.

“We have, in the last few weeks, cushioned our losses by taking annual leave and by having a remit to social welfare. That is not sustainable for people coming up to feed their families and so on,” Palmer said.

He added: “We’d love for it to be resolved, and we would be calling on the parties to get into talks to do that.”

Commenting on the injunctions that have been served by the High Court against protesters on behalf of meat processors, and the committal orders that have also been sought by processors, Palmer argued that it was not the way to go.

I don’t think jailing protesters in any situation for legitimate grievances is going to create an atmosphere that’s going to lead to a resolution.

He highlighted that, despite no conversations with the meat industry at an official level, SIPTU has been dealing with members of the management at individual plants where the union has members.

However, Palmer argued that this course of action was not a permanent fix.

“It is not sustainable to continue on reaching agreements to cover losses if we have lay-offs indefinitely,” he stressed.

Meat Industry Ireland [MII] has consistently said they are concerned for the welfare of the workers, and we’re asking them to back that up with actions, by paying them and compensating them for their losses while this dispute is going on.

When it was highlighted to him that the processors are also loosing money, Palmer responded: “That’s the nature of it of course, but the people who are making money on this, in a very profitable industry, are the processors and retailers.”