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24 May 2022

Browne calls for all meat and food processing plants to ensure Covid tests are widely available

"workers at one meat processing facility in Co Tipperary were shocked to find out that they are no longer being offered Covid tests"

Browne calls for all meat and food processing plants to ensure Covid tests are widely available

Meat processing is a huge employer in Co Tipperary

Tipperary Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne has said that all food and meat production facilities have a duty to provide antigen testing for employees on demand.

Teachta Browne was speaking after being contacted over concerns that one particular facility in Co Tipperary is no longer providing antigen testing to employees upon their return to work post-Christmas.

Teachta Browne said:

“It has been drawn to my attention that workers at one meat processing facility in Co Tipperary were shocked to find out that they are no longer being offered Covid tests following their return to work after Christmas.

“Instead, the facility is passing its responsibility to its workers and is relying on them to purchase their own testing kits.

“This is an extremely concerning development considering the unprecedented rates of Covid in the community and the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant.

“The high take-up of PCR and antigen testing in the community must not be used as an excuse for workplaces of this nature to no longer feel obliged to provide routine testing themselves.

“Indeed, I have also become aware that people in Co Tipperary are finding themselves having to wait for up to four days to get their PCR tests.

“This high level of demand makes it even more crucial that workplaces such as meat factories continue to make antigen tests widely available.

“At a time when the health services are overwhelmed, these workplaces have a duty to their employees and to the communities in which they work to play their part in supressing the spread of the virus. The provision of antigen testing in the workplace is an important element of this effort.

“At the beginning of the Covid crisis meat factories were slow in implementing Covid testing. There must be no repeat of this.

“I am calling on all food and meat processing facilities to ensure that they live up to the responsibility they have for safety and welfare of their workers and the communities in which they operate to ensure that testing is widely available in the workplace.”

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