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Labour, Health, Food Union 'deeply troubled' by lack of COVID-19 protection at meat plant

Last Updated Apr 14, 2020 at 6:50 am MST

(Credit: Facebook/Cargill/)

HIGH RIVER – The operator of a meat plant south of Calgary says it is reducing shifts a day after a union raised concerns about a lack of COVID-19 safety measures.

The president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 wrote Sunday to the general manager of Cargill Meat Solutions in High River saying the company wasn’t doing enough to protect employees.

Thomas Hesse wrote that the plant is designed around efficiency and that work is done in a manner that is the opposite of social distancing.

He demanded a two-week closure to assess safety and guaranteed full compensation for the plant’s approximately 2,000 workers during the shutdown.

Hesse also wrote that the union wants an immediate meeting with experts and government officials to design clear and enforceable safety rules.

An executive with Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc. says the second shift at the High River plant is being idled to minimize the impact of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, concerns have also been raised at the Amazon fulfilment centre in Balzac, as an employee there tested positive for the virus.

The company said it is increasing social distancing measures, staggering shifts, extending breaks, and cleaning more frequently.

Health Canada says contracting the virus from parcels is extremely low, as they take days to deliver and are shipped at room temperature.