SIPTU calls for ‘faster implementation’ of recommendations made for meat industry

Trade union SIPTU said it wants “faster implementation” of recommendations made by the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response for the meat industry.

Last week, AgriLand reported that in its final report, the Covid-19 committee has referred a number of matters related to meat plants to both the Joint Committee on Agriculture and the Marine and the Joint Committee on Health.

SIPTU manufacturing division organiser, Greg Ennis, said he welcomes the recommendation of sick pay provision in the industry, along with that provision of such sick pay being linked to any future work permits being granted.

“We also welcome that the committee has endorsed the SIPTU proposal that Covid-19 compliance officers should be introduced to the sector,” Ennis said.

However, the proposed timeline of up to six months for implementation of these most-important recommendations, which would have a direct impact on decreasing Covid-19 transmission within the meat processing industry, does not fully recognise the urgency of these matters.

“It is also unfortunate that the committee has not taken the opportunity to recommend a direct employment model within the sector as will be the case in Germany from January 1, 2021.”

‘Meat processing is a highly profitable industry’

Ennis says that companies need to recognise the “true value of their employees” by implementing improved pay, sick pay and pension provisions.

“This would ensure that workers are not forced to attend work if feeling unwell and would not have to travel to work in car pools during a pandemic,” Ennis continued.

“It would also assist in avoiding the current unsafe practice of multiple workers sharing rooms in often sub-standard accommodation.

“There is a greater urgency needed in implementing these essential changes if the meat processing industry is not to once again become a major source of Covid-19 infection outbreaks.”

He added: “Meat processing is a highly profitable industry, with some companies recording billions of euros in turnover each year.”