Meat processing facilities have become one of the worst-hit workplaces in both Ireland and around the world during the COVID-19 emergency. This issue will only get worse now that their production has increased for the summer period.
Figures from the National Public Health Emergency Team show there are a total of 828 Covid-19 cases in meat processing plants, an increase of 328 on the number of 500 given last week. Despite these figures, and a number of complaints, no inspections have been carried out by the Health and Safety Authority or the department of Agriculture.
Representatives of different migrant organisations and union reps have raised the issue of migrant workers at meat processing plants. They have made it clear that migrants in these working conditions are being disproportionately impacted by the virus. Some migrant workers cannot adhere to social distancing guidance at home due to often cramped living arrangements with non-relatives as a direct result of their low wages.
Complaints have been made to the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland by workers in various meat processing facilities, they feel their safety at work is being neglected. They also feel that the owners of these plants have higher priorities than worker safety.
I raised this with the Minister today. Watch here the questions I raised to him on this issue: