Claims News

COVID-19 Compensation Claims from Meat Plant Workers Likely Due to ‘Fundamental Problems’

Posted on: June 2nd, 2020

Claims have been made that meat processing plant workers were put in a position where they had to go back to work regardless of the fact that co-workers had clear COVID-19 symptoms.

Recent reports have indicated that over 600 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the meat processing sector.

Deputy general secretary of trade union SIPTU, Gerry McCormack, said that some meat processing plants “completely ignored” HSE guidelines on Covid-19. He said: “What seems to have happened is that some employers really didn’t take this seriously. Some of them did. Some employers completely ignored the recommendations from the HSE on how to do physical distancing and put in proper processes to protect workers.”

He added: “If you contrast, for example, the meat industry with the dairy industry which are both providing food throughout this country and abroad and we have very little, if any, outbreaks in the dairy industry. It’s a well paid, well-regulated industry, as compared to the meat industry. We had a problem from the very beginning in that some employers weren’t taking this seriously.”

In addition to this, in the Dáil former minister and independent TD Denis Naughten has said that he discovered clusters of infection surrounding meat plants “where the levels of infection within the plants themselves is up on one third or, in some instances, half of the workforce”. He went on to say that he found evidence to suggest that meat processing plant staff did not self-isolate in the period between being tested and the results being returned which seriously undermines the validity of the negative results.

He submitted a Dáil question to ask Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to explain how this situation was able to taker place at meat processing plants.

Mr Naughten said that not tackling this development could result in many other problems. He said: “Ahead of the start of reopening the economy next week we must address the fundamental problems within the meat processing sector which could be replicated in other parts of industry and which could be catastrophic.”

“These failures in the system have resulted in new infection clusters in communities across the country which up to now had low levels of Covid-19 infection. If these fundamental issues are not addressed immediately, in advance of the easing of the lockdown next Monday, then we could very quickly be looking at a second spike in Covid-19 infections.

“After such heroic efforts by every citizen in the State to stop the spread of this virus we cannot allow a second wave of infection under any circumstances. So, while we must remain cautious in how we relax restrictions, we must also learn to live with Covid-19 which will be with us for a considerable time to come.”

 



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