TDs urged to vote for ‘right to clean air’ in workplaces and classrooms

People Before Profit Bill would see wider use of filters, CO2 monitors in fight against Covid-19

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy: ‘It is scandalous that we’re now almost two years into a pandemic ... and yet we have no legally enforceable standards in relation to the right of workers have clean air.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy: ‘It is scandalous that we’re now almost two years into a pandemic ... and yet we have no legally enforceable standards in relation to the right of workers have clean air.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Government TDs have been urged to vote for the “right to clean air” and for filters to be installed in workplaces and classrooms as part of efforts to fight the spread of Covid-19.

People Before Profit (PBP) TD Paul Murphy made the call after he said that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Sinn Féin, Labour and the Social Democrats are in favour of his party’s Bill on ventilation that is to be debated in the Dáil tomorrow.

Mr Murphy said: “It is scandalous that we’re now almost two years into a pandemic – the majority of that period we have known that airborne transmission is a crucial way that Covid is spread – and yet we have no legally enforceable standards in relation to the right of workers have clean air.”

He said that if the PBP Bill was passed and rapidly implemented: “It would make a real difference in terms of the fight against Covid.

“It would mean that we’d have CO2 monitors in homes, in restaurants.

“It would mean CO2 monitors in every classroom rather than just a few classrooms and it would mean and require HEPA filters [high-efficiency particulate absorbing filters] in classrooms and in public buildings across the country.”

Mr Murphy said it would slash the transmission of Covid-19.

He said PBP has not yet heard form the Government on the position it will take on the Bill.

The Dublin South-West TD added: “Really it’ll be up to the Government.

“Are they going to vote in favour of the right to clean air and then put the resources behind that to ensure that that can take place or will they object to clean air, vote against workers having the right to clean air at a time of pandemic”.

Vaccine waiver

His party colleague Richard Boyd-Barrett meanwhile, the European Union and the Irish Government for not supporting a waiver for lifting the restrictions on Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property that would allow jabs to be more widely manufactured saying it is “an absolute disgrace”.

He also said: “it is really pretty disgraceful to essentially punish South Africa as the country that actually shared the information and identified Omicron with a travel ban.

“Without them we wouldn’t even know about Omnicron and it makes no sense because Omicron is certainly present all across Europe. ”

Separately, Labour TD Duncan Smith accused the Government of making an “absolute hames” of antigen testing.

His remarks come after Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said a subsidy for the tests was no longer needed as retailers had reduced prices by themselves.

Mr Smith said: “Whilst some retailers have reduced prices we can’t rely on that and it cannot be guaranteed.

“And even with that if you have a box of five antigen tests for €15 which is a reduced price from some retailers, if you have a family of four or five, you’re in low pay or getting social welfare payments if this is to be a regular tool in suppressing the virus and trying to keep the virus down into 2022 then this is going to be a cost that people will ultimately be unable to afford.”

He called on the Government to urgently revisit the matter.