Photo: The Canadian press
Cargill’s beef plant near High River, Alberta, is presented on April 23, 2020. A union is trying to stop the planned reopening of an Alberta meat packing plant that was the headquarters of ” a major COVID-19 outbreak. There were 921 cases of virus at the Cargill plant south of Calgary, which employs 2,000 workers. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Jeff McIntosh
Union tries to stop planned reopening of Alberta beef packing plant that was the site of a major COVID-19 outbreak.
There were 921 cases of virus at the Cargill plant south of Calgary, which employs 2,000 workers.
Cargill announced on April 20 its temporary closure for two weeks.
He said earlier this week that a shift would resume work on Monday with enhanced security measures.
Alberta’s chief medical officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said that Alberta health officials have conducted on-site inspections and have been assured that the facility is safe.
But Thomas Hesse, from Local 401 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, says the workers are scared and that he requested a work stoppage at Alberta Occupational Health and Safety.
The union also filed an unfair labor practice complaint against Cargill and the Alberta government.
Hesse said the Labor Relations Board and the OHS have the power to quickly shut down the plant and the two sides are having discussions.
“The question is are they going to have the courage to do it?” He said Friday. “We are asking them to act urgently. “
The union wants an independent, worker-centered investigation at the Cargill plant in High River and the JBS Canada beef plant in Brooks, Alberta, where there were 390 cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
One worker from each factory died.
“The same people who said it was safe before say it is safe now,” said Hesse. “Would that be enough to risk your life? “
He said the union had not been consulted on the reopening.
“I didn’t receive a phone call, an SMS, or an email,” said Hesse. “I didn’t have a five-minute meeting. I haven’t had an hour-long meeting with an OHS official, with an Alberta health official – nobody. “
Cargill said on Wednesday that he would limit access to the plant to a maximum of two people per car, one in the front and one in the back. It would also provide buses with protective barriers to reduce the need for carpooling.
Fences have also been added in the bathrooms and the lockers have been reassigned to allow sufficient spacing. Cargill said it did a thorough cleaning when it closed.
“We look forward to welcoming our employees again and are focused on our continued commitment to security,” North American leader American company said Wednesday.
“We know being a critical worker is a challenge and we thank our team for working so hard to deliver food to local families, access to markets for breeders and products for our customers’ shelves.”