Posted on May 11, 2020
SHUT DOWN CARGILL PLANT UNTIL THEY FOLLOW THE LAW, ENGAGE WORKERS
EDMONTON – Jason Kenney and the UCP government must close the Cargill meat processing plant until they meet their legal requirements to engage workers on their safety, says the Alberta NDP.
An Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) demand report dated May 8 shows that Cargill did not engage its own workers in an internal review of the circumstances that led to 952 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among workers at the meat processing plant. Under Alberta law, employers are required to engage their workers when conducting internal safety investigations into workplace incidents.
Two people connected to the outbreak have died, one of whom was a worker at the plant. The union representing the workers, UFCW 401, has repeatedly asked Cargill to engage workers in safety planning and protocols both ahead of, and during, the plant’s recent reopening. This has not happened.
“How can Jason Kenney and Jason Copping possibly allow this plant to stay open when the employer is disregarding the law, and more importantly, ignoring its own workers?” asked Alberta NDP Labour Critic Christina Gray. “There is no safety plan if workers are not included. After everything these workers have been through, they do not trust their employer to put them first. The government must step in and close the plant until these workers are heard and their concerns are addressed.”
The text of the demand report states “the investigation was not conducted with the participation of the joint work site health and safety committee as required under section 40(6) OHS Act. Further, Cargill Limited has not demonstrated to OHS that any attempt was made to engage the worker representation of the joint work site health and safety committee in Cargill’s investigation.”
There were just 38 confirmed cases on April 13 when UFCW 401 first asked for the plant to close. On April 18, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen assured Cargill workers that their “worksite is safe.” On April 20, just two days later, Cargill idled the plant after 484 cases were confirmed.
Cargill idled its facility at Chambly, Que., on Sunday after 64 employees tested positive.