Urgent action needed by Stormont Ministers after Moy Park worker dies from Covid-19 and clusters of infection reported at a growing number of poultry and meatpacking sites

Sean McKeeverMoy Park’s Dungannon site must be temporarily shutdown while entire workforce, and families, is tested and assessed, with workers receiving full pay for duration 

Health and Safety Executive of NI must conduct responsive and unannounced physical inspections of meat processing sites to assess infection controls

Sean McKeever, Regional Officer for Unite, demanded that the Northern Ireland Executive act urgently to bring forward an emergency response to the rising number of Covid-19 clusters among workplaces in the poultry and meat industries. 

“Unite has now confirmed that a worker based in Moy Park Dungannon has died following contracting the Covid-19 virus. This is devastating news and we would like to extend our condolences to  her friends and family.

“For some time our union has been raising our concerns about the failure of management to ensure proper social distancing on production lines in Moy Park sites in Dungannon and Portadown. Sadly, the Health and Safety Executive has yet to conduct a physical inspection on either site – the dreadful news that this female worker lost her life does not come as a huge surprise.

“We are aware of outbreaks in Moy Park sites at both Dungannon and Portadown – and yesterday Unite exposed clusters forming in a growing number of meatpacking sites. Workers across the Poultry and Meat sectors are hugely concerned for their safety and the mid-Ulster area is now suffering a higher rate of infection than any other part of Northern Ireland.

“The Northern Ireland Executive must act now before it is too late. We don’t want to see a repeat of their inaction that led to the crisis and avoidable deaths in our care homes. There are particular challenges in meat processing factories which mean they need a sector-specific strategy. We want to avoid the risk of the industry facing the same crisis as in the USA and Brazil where tens of thousands of workers have caught this virus.

“Moy Park’s Dungannon site must be temporarily shutdown while all workers are tested and results come back. Workers must receive full pay for the duration of closure. The HSENI must conduct responsive and unannounced physical inspections of all meat processing sites, in particular both Moy Park plants, and we need clarity on the proper response to an outbreak within a workforce. If Ministers don’t act to ensure such actions to protect workers, Unite will not sit back and watch while our members’ safety is compromised”, Mr McKeever said.

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