News & Media

Massive concerns remain for workers in meat factories

30 July 2020

Statement by Senator Annie Hoey
Spokesperson on Higher Education, Innovation and Research
Annie Hoey

Massive concerns remain for workers in meat factories according to Labour Senator Annie Hoey who has described as extremely worrying reports that the significant rise in Covid-19 cases announced today are linked to an outbreak of the virus at a meat factory in Naas, Co. Kildare, where two workers who tested positive were residents at a Direct Provision centre in Newbridge.

Speaking about this worrying increase in relation to the clusters in congregated settings, Senator Hoey said:

“We should be extremely concerned that migrant workers in congregated settings such as the meat factory concerned are at risk of the virus.”

There have already been 23 confirmed cases in Direct Provision. Speaking in the Seanad as the Minister for Justice addressed the House on the Skellig Star Direct Provision Centre and the Future of Direct Provision, Senator Hoey stated:

“Accommodation in these centres is unsuitable – even outside of a global pandemic – sharing rooms with non-family members is not suitable. It is impossible to observe social distancing when sharing with non-family members”

“My colleague Deputy Duncan Smith has raised concerns around consistent testing in Direct Provision centres in the Special Committee on Covid-19 response. I would also agree completely with Deputy Smith when he described the treatment of meat industry workers as the largest example of ‘systemic worker exploitation’ in the State. I have no confidence in Meat Industry Ireland to keep these workers safe as they are mainly migrant workers who are tied to their employer through their work permits.

“These latest batch of confirmed cases, again in a meat factory, show that the concerns in relation to the meat industry are valid. I would again call on the Government to act urgently to ensure residents have access to speedy testing and suitable own door accommodation.”