Posted on May 1, 2020
NDP SUPPORTS CARGILL WORKERS COMPLAINT OF UNFAIR LABOUR PRACTICE
EDMONTON - The NDP Official Opposition expresses full support for the Unfair Labour Practice Complaint filed by workers’ representatives with respect to the dangerous mishandling of COVID-19 pandemic preparations and subsequent outbreak at the Cargill meat plant in High River.
The complaint, filed by the United Food and Commercial Workers, calls for:
- An emergency hearing to implement interim measures such as: appointing an out-of-province investigator;
- An interim order keeping the plant closed until the Government and the Union have reviewed the findings of that investigator’s report;
- An order that ensures a representative from the Union will be present when production resumes;
- Personal protective equipment supplied by Cargill;
- Daily reports on exposure and diagnosed cases of COVID-19;
- And Union involvement in all meetings or tours conducted by Occupational Health and Safety, Alberta Health, or Alberta Health Services.
“The people who work on the shop floor have a right to be kept safe,” said Christina Gray, NDP Opposition Critic for Labour. “Jason Kenney and the UCP government have a responsibility to protect these workers. It is completely unacceptable that Minister of Labour Jason Copping and Premier Kenney are ignoring the Albertans who work in these dangerous conditions.”
As of Thursday, more than 1,200 cases of COVID-19 were reported in relation to outbreaks at the Cargill plant in High River and at the JBS plant in Brooks. Workers at both plants raised concerns about working conditions weeks before the outbreaks occurred, but Cargill only closed after there were hundreds of cases of COVID-19 and a worker had died. The Ministers of Labour and Agriculture maintained the Cargill plant was safe on a conference call two days before the shutdown. The JBS plant has never closed.
Cargill is now due to reopen on Monday and UFCW has not been engaged in any conversations about safety precautions being taken.
“The workers aren’t at the table and now they’re being asked to return to a workplace that ignored their legitimate safety concerns in the first place,” Gray said. “These plants should both be closed and remain closed until all parties are in agreement that worker safety is being property addressed.”