A number of workers at another Moy Park chicken processing factory in Northern Ireland have tested positive for Covid-19.
Rumours of a Covid-19 cluster detected in Ballymena have been confirmed after numerous comments about Moy Park’s factory in the County Antrim town being involved were posted on social media.
Covid infections at processing facilities around the world have a big impact on production. Extra hygiene measures are put in place to reduce infection risks. Photo: Ruud Ploeg
This particular factory has 1,400 employees and it is thought less than 1% of them have tested positive for the virus. A trade union has called for the factory to be closed down to undergo a deep clean while others have called for a mobile testing lab to be set up outside.
No loss of earnings for poultry production staff
Laura Graham, regional officer for the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), said: “They (Moy Park) have assured us they’re doing all they can through their track and trace procedures to identify the people affected and who they’ve come into contact with. They’ve also assured us that employees who do have to go home to self-isolate are going to be doing so without any loss of earnings. What we would be calling for, should any numbers see an increase, is that the company close the full site down and do a deep cleanse and sanitisation and that no employee should be impacted through any loss of earnings, should this happen.”
Moy Park following govt advice & protocols
After being alerted to the discussions on social media a spokeswoman for Moy Park said: “We have been informed that a very small number of our employees in the Ballymena site have tested positive for coronavirus. The individuals affected have been self-isolating on full pay in line with our Covid sick pay scheme and we are in contact with them to ensure they have the support they require. We continue to work closely with the Public Health Agency and other government agencies, following their advice and protocols,” she said.
As Coronavirus has spread across the communities in which we live, we are doing all that we can to help keep the virus out of our facilities and help prevent its spread.”
The company went on to highlight its efforts and procedures in place to help protect workers against the virus.
The spokeswoman added: “As Coronavirus has spread across the communities in which we live, we are doing all that we can to help keep the virus out of our facilities and help prevent its spread. Staff safety is our number one priority and we continue to strictly follow all safeguarding procedures across our sites, such as enhanced cleaning and hygiene regimes, thermal temperature scanning, Perspex screens, additional PPE and social distancing measures.”
Meat plants generate Covid risk
Local Alliance party politician Paula Bradshaw, who is a member of the Northern Ireland Executive’s health committee, recognised the risk meat plants generate. She said: “We have seen instances elsewhere in the UK and Ireland of 10’s of cases being linked to individual meat factories, and literally thousands of confirmed cases were linked to a single plant in Gutersloh in Germany. It is completely obvious that meat factories represent a serious risk. This outbreak suggests that not enough has been done by the relevant ministers to ensure staff safely in meat factories.” Other factories belonging to the large chicken processor have previously had workers testing positive for the virus and sadly one worker at the Dungannon plant passed away.