News & Media

Serial testing regime in meat factories and in Direct Provison welcome but overdue

27 August 2020

Statement by Duncan Smith TD
Party Whip and Spokesperson on Climate Action, Communications Networks and Transport.
Duncan Smith

The announcement that serial testing will commence for food processing or meat plants with a staff of over 50 and in Direct Provision is welcome but overdue according to the Labour Representative on the Covid-19 Response Committee, Duncan Smith T.D.

Deputy Smith said:

“Labour have been consistently calling for testing and tracing to be ramped up particularly in light of the dire situation in congregated situations such as meat factories and Direct Provision.”

“However, this Government should have listened much earlier to the Labour call to ramp up testing and tracing for individuals in vulnerable settings. These people need a targeted response to deal with the emergence of numerous clusters in these settings.

“I would again reiterate my call in advance of the appointment of a new Agriculture Minister, that a working group is needed to examine working conditions in meat factories. The Government have sat on their hands on this for months now and the issues in meat factories go beyond the need for increased testing and tracing. The mainly migrant workforce deserve decent pay and working conditions and the new Minister needs to act by setting up a working group with officials from his Department, the trade union movement and other relevant stakeholders.

Deputy Smith continued:

“While today’s announcement is welcome there are deeper systemic issues within congregated settings such as Direct Provision and meat factories and they need to tackled too.