SIPTU calls for mandatory temperature testing at meat and dairy plants

Trade union SIPTU is calling for mandatory temperature testing for meat and dairy plant workers, as well as the mandatory provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) at plants.

SIPTU has made the call following the confirmation of clusters of Covid-19 infections in a number of facilities.

“In recent weeks we have been raising concerns about Covid-19 related health and safety at meat processing plants,” said Greg Ennis, Manufacturing Division organiser with the trade union.

Unfortunately, our fears have now been realised with numerous clusters within plants confirmed by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

“While we acknowledge the employers, who in consultation with SIPTU, have ensured that best-practice standards have been implemented, we are calling for the mandatory temperature testing of all workers within the entire meat and dairy industry,” Ennis confirmed.

He added: “There are also requirements for the provision of comprehensive PPE for workers and the inspection of plants by the Health and Safety Authority [HSA] with immediate effect, where this has not been done to date.

“Failure to do so will put further workers, their families and the wider community at risk. Action must be taken if we are to avert the possibility of the closure of the entire meat and dairy processing industry due to the threat of Covid-19,” the SIPTU official warned in conclusion.

Meat plants

Earlier today, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) confirmed the presence of Covid-19 cases in a number of as yet unidentified meat plants.

“As the Covid-19 situation has evolved across the country, unfortunately some meat processing facilities have had to manage the impact of positive cases,” MII said.

These plants include Dawn Meats in Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Dawn Meats said: “When we became aware of four confirmed cases of Covid-19 among workers in Kilbeggan we decided to defer production in the plant yesterday.

“The cases reflect less than 2% of staff at the plant – however, the decision was taken out of an abundance of caution while we review the situation,” the spokesperson added.