UNITE has claimed “up to a thousand” workers walked out of a Moy Park production facility in Northern Ireland over social distancing safety concerns.

But Moy Park has said it takes employee health seriously and disputed the number of protestors, suggesting that just 100 staff members walked out and returned to work after 15 minutes.

The protest took place at Moy Park’s Seagoe facility in Portadown on 25 March.

Health and safety

Unite Regional Officer Sean McKeever said the walkout followed the “failure of the biggest employer in Northern Ireland to provide basic health and safety protections to its workforce”.

“Unite attempted to secure commitments to ensure a minimum two-metre social distancing between workers and other measures to enable infection control in the face of the Coronavirus threat, but our proposals were dismissed by management.”

‘Robust measures’

A spokesperson for Moy Park said: “The health and wellbeing of our team is our most important consideration and we have put new, robust measures in place to keep them safe.

“We have thoroughly reviewed our sites and continue to take on board feedback from our team members. We had already identified seven areas to enhance social distancing.

“These measures include staggering breaks, respacing workstations and communal areas, as well as installing screens on appropriate production lines.

“We also continue to make provisions for those who can work from home to do so using remote technology as well as increased cleaning and the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“We are continually reviewing the situation and taking additional steps where necessary.”

‘Vital role’

“Our teams are playing a vital role in keeping food production moving and feeding the nation. We are committed to ensuring they are safe and well to keep providing these essential food products.”