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Meat factory workers voice concerns on Covid-19 safety

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Meat factory workers are voicing concerns about safety in the workplace during the Covid-19 crisis, complaining that employers are not doing enough to minimise exposure to the virus.

Workers in a host of meat plants in Northern Ireland walked off the job last week, citing a lack of measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Edel McGinley, director of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, said workers in agri-food factories across Ireland had told them they are worried.

"They have said they can't adhere to physical distancing and are working shoulder to shoulder, taking breaks at the same time, without extra hygiene facilities," he said.

One factory worker said: "There is no social distancing in the canteen during breaks and no sanitiser available on the factory floor, plus staff are expected to share protective uniforms, for example, working overall coats."

Protected

SIPTU is calling on employers to ensure that workers are fully protected and have a safe working environment.

SIPTU spokesman, Greg Ennis, said that if people need to be at work, they deserve to be safe.

"We are also concerned that some employers are intensifying their rate of production in anticipation of closure and are exposing workers to greater risk at this time," he said.

"Any workplace that has not been directed to close by the Government is at risk of not receiving emergency subsidies. Staff who feel their safety is at risk but are not directed to stay at home also may not be eligible."

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