Liam Gallagher, Unite Regional Officer for workers at Kerry Foods in Coleraine, Enniskillen and Omagh challenged management on their refusal to extend furlough to vulnerable, low-paid workers.
“A number of employees who provided management with written, medical evidence that they should shield as vulnerable workers, in line with the Public Health Authority guidelines, have been refused furlough by Kerry Foods.
“I understand one of these employees is pregnant and another has diabetes – clearly these workers are particularly ‘at-risk’ from Covid-19 transmission. There is absolutely no excuse for the company failing to furlough them.
“Instead of furlough being considered as a reasonable adjustment at this time, workers in some cases are forced back on reliance on statutory sick pay of a mere £95.85 a week.
“We have contacted management to demand that their decision is immediately remedied in line with guidelines. Unite will view any failure to furlough workers at risk as a serious breach of the protection that the scheme offers and we will vigorously challenge any such behaviour with all the resources that we have.
“Despite the risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, low-paid workers at Kerry Foods turn up day and daily to ensure essential food supplies continue to be on the shelves for everyone. These employees are essential workers but instead of being kept safe they are being treated as expendable by bosses fixated on profit”, Mr Gallagher concluded.