Mass testing to resume at Cork meat plant 

Mass testing to resume at Cork meat plant 

Hundreds of workers at the 650-employee plant will be tested by HSE staff.

MASS Covid-19 testing of workers at the Kepak meat processing plant in Watergrasshill will get underway again tomorrow.

Hundreds of workers at the 650-employee plant will be tested by HSE staff. Those being tested were already tested over two weeks ago but were negative. 

However, there are now plans to test every 15 days at the plant after more than 120 workers tested positive in the first round of mass testing on May 12.

The testing is getting underway as workers begin to return to the plant after recovering from the virus, or after having to self isolate because of being in contact with a confirmed case.

The fresh testing comes as concern continues about the outbreak of the virus in the meat processing sector.

On Tuesday evening, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan revealed that an extra 103 meat plant workers had tested positive for the virus.

This brings to over 920 the number of workers in plants across the country who have contracted it in 16 different clusters in the industry.

At present, the Watergrasshill plant is the only one of the four meat factories in Cork to have an outbreak.

SIPTU has written to all its members in the sector in recent days. 

In the letter, the union's Greg Ennis said: "While your safety is of paramount importance to this Union, we also believe that the pay, terms and conditions of your employment within the Industry (which may well be indirectly linked to the spread of Covid-19) must be improved upon moving forward and together with your assistance, we can strive to address these critical issues on your behalf."

He has urged members to encourage other workers in the sector to join the trade union to "ensure that you receive the recognition that you deserve, though fair pay, pension and sick pay provision and a safer working environment as you continue to work in this “essential” Meat Processing Industry."

Social Democrats agriculture spokeswoman Holly Cairns said: "I have been in contact with both meat processing plants in West Cork to ensure they were getting the supports they needed. There have been no reported cases in either plant, which is very reassuring. 

"However, constant vigilance and correct procedures need to be in place. This is an issue about workers’ rights.”

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