Report finds meat plant workers are subject to "difficult and dangerous" working conditions
Almost 60% of workers surveyed said they had been injured whilst working at a meat plant in Ireland.
Most meat factories do not provide sick pay to ill workers and workers are subject to "difficult and dangerous" conditions, a new survey from the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) has found.
The report surveyed 150 workers in the meat processing sector and said it found a "systemic culture of discrimination and dangerous working conditions" along with a "cavalier disregard for the people who work there".
Workers from different sectors including de-boners, cutters and trimmers, kill line operators, packing hall operators, chill room operatives, cleaners, supervisors, storage, dispatch and warehousing and lairage workers were spoken to as part of the survey.
Almost 60% of respondents have been injured at work, which includes regular lacerations and bruises, repetitive strain, chronic back pain, skin disorders, eye injuries, bone fractures, loss of fingers and limbs, burns, and respiratory problems.
The survey found that 58% of workers didn’t know who the Health and Safety Officer was and 20% said injuries were an expected occupational hazard.
One worker said: “Most of the time if people are working on machinery, they are not being trained – there’s no guidelines on the machinery on what the operator must do.”
Another worker said: “When the factory needs to kill 500 cows, if people don’t show up we still have to meet that target – they get in inexperienced people and there's loads of accidents as a result."
The MRCI report found that 43% of those surveyed had felt verbally bullied and 35% psychologically bullied, while 96% said their employers did not take any effective action to solve the issue.
In another case study, a worker said he is bullied “all day long”.
Bríd McKeown, Workplace Rights Coordinator with the MRCI, said: “This research shows that workers feel under pressure to work at unreasonable and unsafe speeds on the production line. Despite staff shortages during holidays or Covid-related absences, production levels are back on par with 2018 and exceed 2019 levels.”
She added: “Not a single worker surveyed said they felt valued at work. Despite years of experience in the sector, meat workers face a culture of oppression in their workplace, low wages and lack of progression, and poor health and safety standards.”
The full report can be read here.