Manor Farm defends charging staff for provision of PPE

Manor Farm defends charging staff for provision of PPE

A number of outbreaks linked to the meat-processing plants led to county-wide shutdowns last month in Kildare, Laois and Offaly. File picture: Pexels

One of the country's largest chicken processors has defended charging staff at its plants for personal protection equipment (PPE).

Manor Farm, which operates plants and offices in counties Cavan, Monaghan and Meath, provides chicken products to a range of the biggest supermarkets in the country and employs around 750 staff.

Payslips seen by the Irish Examiner show that some staff had up to €50 deducted directly from their wages for the price of PPE during the pandemic.

A spokesman for the Manor Farm company told the Irish Examiner: "There is a PPE deduction for all new starts to the business.

"A one-off deduction/ charge of €50.

"This one-off payment deduction is refunded to employees after 12 weeks through payroll.

"For the avoidance of any doubt, this is a pre-Covid-19 policy. The policy was implemented in 2014."

It's understood that the business had an issue previously with new entrants getting fully kitted out with PPE and then leaving shortly afterwards which led to the 12-week policy and the charge being later paid back through payroll to the employee.

The company's policy also relates to seasonal workers including students.

Appropriate PPE is considered essential to stopping the spread of Covid-19 in meat-processing plants.

Concerns have been raised about the welfare of meat-processing workers concerning the spread of Covid-19 for several months, over 1,500 cases have been linked to outbreaks in meat plants.

A number of outbreaks linked to the meat-processing plants led to county-wide shutdowns last month in Kildare, Laois and Offaly.

Last week, trade union Siptu and Meat Industry Ireland agreed a “wide-ranging safety protocol” for workers in the meat-processing industry, including a commitment to maintaining serial testing of workers at meat plants and "the mandatory use of PPE".

Siptu divisional organiser Greg Ennis says that charging workers for the provision or use of PPE in any circumstances is “deplorable”.

“This flies in the face of the ‘commonality of purpose’ shown by other sectors and indeed most other employers within the meat- processing sector,” he said.

“For any employer to do so in the middle of a pandemic is reprehensible," he said.

He called on such outliers in the industry to “cop on” and use their significant financial resources to supply necessary PPE.

A spokesperson for Meat Industry Ireland said the industry was working hard to contain the virus and was not aware of any charges for PPE.

"Meat Industry Ireland is not aware of any such situation. 

"PPE of all nature is provided by employers to staff, as the industry continues to work relentlessly to protect employees during the course of this pandemic."

More in this section