ALL who enter Liffey Meats in Hacketstown are having their temperature taken to reduce the spread of Covid-19. The Carlow factory said the “health and wellbeing of our employees and everyone entering our plants is our priority” amid a week of scrutiny of the meat sector.
The Hacketstown facility declined say how many, if any, cases of Covid-19 had been detected among its workforce, which is understood to be less than 50. However, the company added that any employee with symptoms should immediately self-isolate.
SIPTU organiser Greg Ennis said the union had been calling for increased worker protection in recent months.
“We have 700 people in meat plants with Covid-19 nationally. Minister Creed said three-and-a-half weeks ago there were six clusters, which has now grown to 15 clusters and 700 cases.”
Workers in meat plants are high-risk because they are in close proximity, often in refrigerated units circulating cold air. There are bottlenecks in toilets and canteens.
A significant number of staff at the Hacketstown plant are migrants.
“They often share accommodation and car pool,” added Mr Ennis. “What happens outside the factory is as important as what happens inside.”
Liffey Meats said it has established a Covid-19 dedicated team, which has been fully engaged with the HSE. The company has implemented “a full set of enhanced safety procedures” across all its plants.