Charging meat workers for PPE wrong

Seán Sherlock TD
24 September 2020
  • Confirmation needed that practice is isolated to Manor Farms.
  • HSA and Department need to ensure workers are protected and not charged.
  • Workers should have paid sick leave protection.

Responding to the revelation in the Irish Examiner that workers in Manor Farms were being charged for PPE, Labour Agriculture spokesperson Seán Sherlock called on the HSA and Department of Agriculture to ensure this practice is not widespread in the industry.

Deputy Sherlock said:
“PPE is an essential tool for those working in meat plants, and I am really shocked to hear of the practice of charging workers in Manor Farm plants. It has to stop as this equipment is essential to the safety of workers and communities they live in. Passing the cost on to workers is unacceptable and wrong.

“The pandemic has really shone a light on the terms and conditions faced by meat plant workers. The protocol negotiated by SIPTU commits to the mandatory use of PPE, but we need to ensure that workers don’t bear the cost of that. Trade Unions have been battling for better rights and conditions for these workers, and we need to ensure now that government agencies back that effort up.

“I am calling on the HSA and Department of Agriculture to ensure this isn’t a widespread practice in the industry and intervene to ensure workers are properly protected at no cost to themselves. We need assurance on the standard and quality of PPE, and more efforts to ensure that there is a level playing field for workers in the meat sector.

“Yesterday the Dáil debated Labour’s Sick Leave Bill that would provide a legal right to sick pay. The Covid-19 outbreaks in meat factories is one of the primary reasons why a right to sick pay is essential and needs to be made law so that workers are protected, and that costs of the pandemic aren’t passed onto staff.”

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