A SAFETY protocol for workers in meat plants has been agreed this afternoon between SIPTU and Meat Industry Ireland.
It follows meetings between both sides in recent weeks to address the clusters of Covid-19 in meat plants across the country.
It was revealed in the Dáil yesterday that there were 226 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in a Cork plant earlier this year. There have been 44 Covid-19 clusters in meat plants across the country.
In a statement this afternoon, SIPTU manufacturing division organiser Greg Ennis said: “This protocol is the only national charter agreed by a union in this country with employers to cover safety procedures and processes aimed at protecting workers from Covid-19 infection.
"The protocol includes a commitment to maintaining serial testing of meat plant workforces, ongoing health screening, temperature testing, the mandatory use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment and stringent hygiene controls.
"It has been further agreed that joint employer/worker forums will be established at enterprise level to ensure full compliance with these measures and address other issues related to the Covid-19 crisis."
He said that at a national level, SIPTU and MII representatives will review the implementation and adherence to the protocol on an ongoing basis.
He said: "Information fully outlining the agreed protocol will be made available in all the national languages of workers employed in the industry.
"The fact that this protocol has been completed in conjunction with MII demonstrates there is a coherent approach by employers and workers’ representatives in the industry which places the health of workers, their families and the wider community as its main priority."
He added: "The suppression of the virus within the industry is of paramount importance in the wider battle against Covid-19. I wish to acknowledge the work of our members in this nationwide struggle by their adherence to all existing protocols in place within plants.
"The work of HSE testers in implementing the programme of serial testing at meat plants has also been outstanding. Such serial testing of workforces in the industry must be maintained if we are to minimise the occurrence of outbreaks at processing plants.”
He warned: “It must be remembered that with this virus, no one is safe until everybody is safe.”