TALKS between union leaders and the firm at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak in Wrexham have "broken down".

That is the claim of the Unite union which says it has been seeking assurances on improved health and safety measures on the Rowan Foods site to prevent further outbreaks of coronavirus among the workforce.

The Union says it has also been seeking full pay for staff who are being required to self-isolate though coronavirus.

As of today, 97 people, either members of the workforce at Rowan Foods or people living in their households, have tested positive for the virus.

The union says talks have now "broken down".

Dave Griffiths, Unite Regional Officer, said: “Unite is extremely disappointed by the manner in which Rowan Foods have conducted themselves during discussions with us, both during and prior to the Covid19 outbreak at the plant.

Our members employed by Rowan are extremely concerned that the company has not taken the health and safety concerns that Unite has been raising since early June, with the urgent attention that they demand. Workers who are frightened for their own, and their family’s safety, must be reassured that no stone is being left unturned in the efforts to further protect them from contacting Covid19 whilst at work.

"Rowan Foods should immediately introduce full pay for workers who are off work due to either having Covi19 or self-isolating after being contacted through Welsh Governments Test, Trace and Protect system. For workers already suffering from low pay it is morally bankrupt to then ask them, through no fault of their own, to self-isolate and survive on SSP. The simple fact is that some workers will continue to come to work and ignore the guidance if they are suffering financial detriment.

"Protecting workers and the general public cannot be done on the cheap. Rowan Foods, who are an extremely profitable company, supplying some of the biggest names in the UK food industry have to step up to the plate. They have to put the appropriate health and safety measures alongside adequate financial support for the workforce, if they are to get themselves out of the current crisis that has enveloped them”.

Rowan Foods is owned by Oscar Mayer and supplies most of the major supermarkets in the UK as well as Subway and Greggs.

Public Health Wales has said the plant had not been identified as the source of the outbreak.

A spokesman for Rowan Foods said: "The safety of our colleagues remains our priority and our focus is on remaining COVID-19 secure as a site; we continue to follow government guidelines at all times for our own safety and the safety of our colleagues.

"We have been proactively introducing new operational changes at the site for some months now, since the issuing of Government guidance for the food industry In March 2020, to ensure that we maintain social distancing wherever practically possible, and have also included new mitigations such as screens and visors.

"In addition, at the same time we implemented a behavioural safety system and Social Distancing Champions throughout the factory to ensure colleagues are socially distancing. All of these changes were made in conjunction with advice by the regional Environmental Health Officer and our onsite Health & Safety teams. These measures have limited the impact on our teams.

"We continue to work with public health authorities.

"In line with Government guidance we are paying staff who are off work due to COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay from the first day of absence."