Meat Industry Ireland says it has found common ground with Siptu following talks on workplace safety today in the wake of a spate of Covid-19 outbreaks at meat plants in the midlands that led to three counties being locked down.
It says it is in agreement with Siptu over mass testing and keeping factories running -- and plan to work more on a Code of Practice in two weeks' time.
But Siptu divisional organiser Greg Ennis said the problems in meatpacking cannot be solved without addressing the lack of sick pay for workers.
"For someone who was at the meeting it was not all that positive. I will say both Meat Industry Ireland and Siptu do have common interest in maintaining worker safety and continuing business which protects the workers.
"However I would be extremely disappointed with the fact that Meat Industry Ireland have refused to engage in sick pay for workers.
According to the Irish Times after the meeting Mr Ennis said that progress had been made on other elements of a proposed charter or code of practice for the sector, including safety measures to protect workers against Covid-19, testing for the coronavirus and inspections of plants.
Talks on these issues are expected to reconvene between Siptu and employers in the meat processing sector later this month.
Meat Industry Ireland meanwhile said after the meeting that pay and conditions were not matters within its mandate but rather rested with individual employers.
Mr Ennis said he was disappointed that the organisation was not prepared to engage in a process aimed at introducing a standardised across-the-board agreement on sick pay and pensions.