Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) has been supporting agri-food workers to address workplace issues since its inception in 2001. MRCI supports workers with an average of 2,200 cases annually across agri-food, home care, cleaning, hotel, restaurants and catering, and on a range of work permit and immigration issues.
Workers in the meat processing sector were some of the hardest hit by Covid-19 outbreaks, with over 10% of the workforce contracting the virus. The pandemic has laid bare the historically poor working conditions for these essential workers alongside the consistent shortcomings of institutions set up to protect them. It also exposed legislative barriers in accessing social protection, including sick pay.
This research reveals the systemic culture of poor and dangerous working conditions, with employers who put profit before the health and safety of their workers. The research reveals a sector with low pay, poor terms and conditions and a disgraceful health and safety record. Almost 60 percent 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.