Businesses in Kildare, Offaly and Laois should provide extensive evidence of worker safety measures prior to receiving top up grants from government, according to the Workers’ Party’s √Čilis Ryan. Ryan was responding to an announcement by government that employers in Kildare, Offaly and Laois would receive top-up grants in addition to the July stimulus package already announced.

 Ryan said: 

“It is astonishing that, days after it emerged low paid factory workers had been working in unsafe conditions exposed to Covid19, a grants scheme is announced for the employers of these and other workers, with no mention of the workers themselves. 

“Our right wing government once again assumes that protecting business owners trumps protecting workers every time.” 

She continued: 

“Prior to receiving any financial support from government, all businesses, including meat processing businesses, should be required to provide substantial evidence of how they have invested in worker safety.

“This should include submitting invoices of protective equipment purchased, details of sick pay schemes, independent complaints mechanisms for workers and headcount and shift data to allow an assessment of social distancing measures. The HSA should be directed to verify these submissions where necessary.” 

Ryan concluded: 

“The government’s approach to workplace safety in the context of Covid19 has been to bankroll business owners while allowing enormous holes in Irish worker safety practice continue unchallenged. 

“In the context of a global pandemic, it is not on to be offering financial support to businesses who refuse to pay their workers while they are sick. This is the bare minimum that must be done to make worker safety a reality.”