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Concerns raised over spread of Covid19 among meat factory workers

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There has been a number of clusters of Covid-19 cases in meat plants.

There has been a number of clusters of Covid-19 cases in meat plants.

There has been a number of clusters of Covid-19 cases in meat plants.

Concerns have been raised about the welfare of meat processing workers concerning the spread of Covid-19.

Workers from two plants said today that workers who displayed symptoms were often returning to work too soon, that they were not given proper personal protective equipment on time (PPE) and social distancing was not implemented properly among workers.

To date, there have been 600 confirmed cases of Covid19 at meat processing plants.

Speaking on Radio One’s “Today with Sarah Mc Inerney” one worker said: “People who were sick with coronavirus come back to work but they’re not fully recovered and people with a high temperature were sent home and told to come back the next day.”

The workers said they have received PPE in the last few days, but before this there was no protective gear. Workers, they said, are given one mask to wear for a week, which has led to employees buying their own equipment.

“They gave one mask for one week and we have to wear it all day, bring it home wash it, dry it and bring it back, so some have bought their masks. Before this, there was just soap in the bathroom."

Another worker said: “It has been very hard for the last few weeks. There has been no social distancing. It can’t be because of the way the production is. People have been on top of each other working shoulder to shoulder.”

The worker also said that in parts of the factory where there had been confirmed cases of the virus the factory has not been closed down to allow for a deep clean of the area.

The industry has come under increased pressure over the last few weeks and there have been calls for production to stop to address the issue.

Speaking in the Dail yesterday Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin described the situation with meat plants as 'gravely serious' and called for production in meat plants to halted for a deep clean while waiting for Covid-19 results of workers.

In response, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) issued a statement saying “members have been proactive and have put in place a very substantial suite of protective measures in processing plants.

"They are working with the HSE and authorities in the particular plants affected and the meat processing industry is following the HSE guidance and advice on all aspects related to COVID-19 including preventative measures and procedures around testing.”

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