Concerns are growing that processing of livestock could be hit by ongoing issues in staff shortages in meat factories.
Meat Industry Ireland (MII) told the Irish Farmers Journal that the situation was not improving. “As is the case in the UK and across many EU member states, labour availability is a major concern in meat processing presently and the situation is deteriorating,” a spokesperson for MII said.
“Companies continue to focus efforts on recruitment and retention but staff shortage has become a real issue and is challenging processing capacities.”
The sector was also hit hard by COVID-19 with a high number of staff becoming ill with the virus
The sector has always found it difficult to recruit and retain staff, with many coming from non-EU countries.
The sector was also hit hard by COVID-19 with a high number of staff becoming ill with the virus. This was largely due to the atmospheric properties and layout of meat factories, with a HIQA report published in April this year showing workers in meat factories were three times more likely to catch COVID-19 than members of the general public aged between 18 and 64 years of age.
Employment permits for meat deboners have reached their quotas and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment stated that new applications by factories could not be made at this time.
In the UK, meat processors are reporting massive strains on their production lines, as increasing numbers of staff are instructed to self-isolate for 10 days
Workers are paid a minimum of €27,500/annum under the permit scheme.
In the UK, meat processors are reporting massive strains on their production lines, as increasing numbers of staff are instructed to self-isolate for 10 days, as a result of close contact with COVID-19 cases.
The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) CEO Nick Allen told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday that between 5% and 10% of the workforce has been “pinged” by the COVID-19 alert app and asked to self-isolate.
“If the UK workforce situation deteriorates further, companies will be forced to start shutting down production lines altogether,” he said.