Posted on Apr 16, 2020
STATEMENT FROM RACHEL NOTLEY REGARDING WORKING CONDITIONS AT FOOD PROCESSING PLANTS
“We are deeply concerned that hundreds of workers at a High River-area meat processing plant have been laid off or had their hours cut substantially for exercising their legal right to speak out about unsafe work conditions.
“The Minister of Labour and Minister of Agriculture and Forestry have a duty to ensure these workers are safe. To date, there have been 38 confirmed COVID-19 cases — that we know of — at the Cargill plant and yet it remains open.
“We’re also told by the Minister of Agriculture that he has worked with unions on a coronavirus protocol plan but we spoke to the province’s largest food sector union — UFCW — and they have heard nothing from the Minister
“We are told the conditions are Cargill are very concerning, given COVID-19, with 2,000 workers coming in and out of the plant daily and working nearly shoulder to shoulder.
“Calls by UFCW to shut the plant down for two weeks to assess and create a safe working space that is compliant with Public Health Orders have gone unanswered. Instead, the workers are now suffering. We have seen plants in the United States shut for two weeks after a single positive case. Here, we have 38 at least. Enough is enough, the Government must order the plant closed until all parties are satisfied that it is safe.
“In the last 24 hours, we have also learned of COVID-19 cases at the JBL and Olymel meat plants as well.
“And workers cannot face repercussions for simply speaking up for not only their safety but that of the entire community. The companies running these plants have a duty to ensure the safety of the communities they operate. Furthermore, the ministers — the Premier — have a responsibility to prevent community spread and take action to correction this highly concerning situation.”