Aontú Leader Peadar Tóibín TD has voiced serious concern over reports from SIPTU that up to 600 meat processing workers in Ireland have tested positive for Covid-19. According to An Teachta Tóibín;
“There are reports of one factory in Edenderry with over 60 cases, and another factor in Tipperary with over 120 cases – both operated by Rosderra Irish Meats Group. A factory had been closed in my own county of Meath and a second factory in the county has had a cluster of cases”.
“There are a number of significant threats here. Firstly, there is a threat to workers and their families. Workers have a right to be able to work in a safe environment and to be protected. Secondly there is a Public Health threat. We need to supress this disease as soon as possible to allow society to lift the Lockdown. We cannot allow Meat Factories become nodes of transmission. Communities living close to these factories feel especially exposed at the current time”.
“Thirdly down the line there may be possible threat to the whole supply chain. I am extremely concerned about farmers who have been massively hit already over the last number of years with record low prices. Already we have reports of a live exports ship not being able to sail and now there is a real possibility that the through put of meat in factories will reduce. This will hit farmers hard. It will also hit consumers who may find meat harder to find on supermarket shelves”.
Aontú is calling for blanket testing across meat-processing factories. We are being told by the government practically on a daily basis that there is excess testing and tracing capacity within the system. Testing is running at 50% of promised capacity and today only 80 Contact Tracers out of the 2,000 trained are actually being used. We cannot allow Meat factories become the new Nursing Homes.