IN Northern Ireland around 60 workers have refused to start their shifts at a food factory over fears for their safety amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Staff at the Linden Foods site in County Tyrone are demanding talks with management over infection control measures, claiming there is a ‘total absence of social distancing’ in place.
Unite regional officer Brian Hewitt said the union will do ‘whatever it takes to support our members’ fight for adequate protection.
Mr Hewitt said: ‘There have been ongoing issues between management and workers at Linden Foods in Dungannon over the issue of the absence of social distancing for workers on the boning line, in the canteen, changing areas and at entry and exit points.
‘The company’s management has provided no additional wash facilities and failed to stagger breaks.
‘Workers have been reporting to Unite that those exhibiting symptoms are still allowed to work, as are those with family members who are self-isolating as result of being in the high-risk health category.
‘Everyone needs to take responsibility but the company’s actions are putting workers needlessly at further risk.’
Mr Hewitt said Unite has been raising health and safety concerns over the last weeks but claimed they have been ignored by management.
‘In desperation and fear for their health and well-being, this morning approximately 60 workers refused to enter the workplace and sought assurances from management that two metres spacing would be adopted throughout’ he added.