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Tyrone meat plant workers write to Foyle Food bosses detailing coronavirus safety concerns

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The workers in Foyle Food Group's plant in Omagh believe a temporary closure is necessary in order to carry out a deep clean of the site before production can resume. They are also demanding that Covid-19 testing be carried out on all workers and their families as well.

The workers in Foyle Food Group's plant in Omagh believe a temporary closure is necessary in order to carry out a deep clean of the site before production can resume. They are also demanding that Covid-19 testing be carried out on all workers and their families as well.

AP

The workers in Foyle Food Group's plant in Omagh believe a temporary closure is necessary in order to carry out a deep clean of the site before production can resume. They are also demanding that Covid-19 testing be carried out on all workers and their families as well.

More than 70 workers at a Co Tyrone meat processing plant have sent an open letter to its directors outlining their concerns over working conditions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The workers in Foyle Food Group's plant in Omagh believe a temporary closure is necessary in order to carry out a deep clean of the site before production can resume.

They are also demanding that Covid-19 testing be carried out on all workers and their families as well.

The staff at Foyle Food Group's Omagh plant also stated that once the site does reopen, appropriate personal protective equipment, sanitisation and social distancing measures must be put in place.

The open letter to the directors of the company was signed by a total of 726 people, including 74 members of staff and the secretary of the Fermanagh and Omagh Socialist Party, Amy Ferguson.

It was also sent to the Health and Safety Executive and the Northern Ireland Executive Office.

"If the owners and politicians fail to act swiftly, however, we fully support the right of workers in the factory to take action themselves to defend the well-being of themselves, their families and the wider public," read the letter.

"We understand that some workers in the factory have already walked out as a result of working conditions."

Last week, a woman aged in her 50s, who was a member of the production staff at Moy Park's site in Dungannon, died after she contracted the coronavirus.

There was no suggestion that the company was at fault and it said that "robust" measures were put in place to keep workers safe.

A spokesperson for Foyle Food Group said that a number of employees "confirmed positive" for Covid-19. These employees, he said, were no longer attending for work.

"In order to protect our employees, we have implemented 100% testing for all employees and stakeholders on site, this testing was completed last week with results returned and managed and we have now commenced 100% testing of employees and stakeholders again this week," he said.

"This action is over and above government guidelines in respect of testing protocols. Up to 50% of our employees do not have access to a vehicle and to facilitate there testing needs, the company has purchased test kits directly from Randox, applying these on site through our occupational nurse."

"The government and their various departments have very clear rules in relation to the operation of food processing facilities and specifically the risk surrounding Covid19," he said.

"From the onset of the pandemic we have worked hand in hand with these agencies both directly and through an industry forum. Unannounced inspections from government departments have taken place and we can confirm that they are satisfied with our systems and we continue to work with them as guidelines change in the management of workplaces.

"We continue to operate the strictest hygiene controls which includes all our sites being deep cleaned on a daily basis. Strict social distancing continues to be in place, which is being supervised and audited on a daily basis by on site COVID-19 marshals.”

Belfast Telegraph