Up to one thousand workers have walked out of the Seagoe Moy Park site today over concerns that adequate safety measures are not being taken to protect workers from the spread of Covid-19. A further 80 workers have walked out of ABP Meats in Lurgan.
Unite reports that workers are demanding adequate social distancing of 2 metres to be facilitated and enforced, for workers to be kept as separate as possible, and for deep cleans to be conducted on workstations where workers have self-isolated with Covid-19 symptoms.
In a situation where most non-essential work is being shut down, it is disgraceful that meat processing workers are being endangered by their companies in this manner. If adequate precautions are not taken Covid-19 could very easily spread in these factories, putting the lives and health of these workers at risk. Not only this, but these workers could in turn pass the virus on to their families and loved ones.
At present, it appears that the owner of ABP Meats Larry Goodman stands to profit from a deal with the Southern government that would see the use of his private healthcare facilities being used by the public health system to deal with Covid-19. It is bitterly ironic therefore, that simultaneously his company is putting workers at risk of contracting the disease.
People Before Profit stand in solidarity with the workers who have walked out today. We call for the immediate introduction of adequate safety measures to protect the workers across the food production sector.
In addition to this, any worker who feels it is unsafe to work because of concerns about their health or the health of their families, they should be allowed to stay at home and receive adequate benefits while doing so.
We also call for hazard pay for all workers who are engaged in essential work such as the production of food. It is these workers who are putting their health and lives on the line in order to see us all through this crisis and this needs to be recognised and rewarded.