“Coronavirus outbreak – Production needs to slow down to help physical distancing at meat-packing plants: Meinema”
Global News – The West Block, May 3, 2020
Ottawa – May 5, 2020 – UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema appeared on Global TV’s The West Block this past Sunday to discuss the recent outbreaks of COVID-19 at two Alberta meat-packing plants represented by UFCW, and to talk about the measures that our union is calling for to better protect the health and safety of workers at the plants.
The nationally broadcasted interview came on the heels of news that over 1,200 COVID-19 cases have been linked to the Cargill meat processing plant near High River, Alberta, where 921 workers have tested positive for the virus. The Cargill facility handles roughly 40 percent of all beef processing in Canada.
Meanwhile, nearly 300 cases of COVID-19 have been reported among workers at the JBS Canada plant in Brooks, Alberta, causing employees, their union, and members of the community to call for urgent and immediate measures at the plant. Workers at the Cargill and JBS Canada facilities are represented by UFCW Local 401.
During the West Block interview with show host Mercedes Stephenson, President Meinema explained that in response to these outbreaks, UFCW is calling on both companies to reduce line speeds and production capacity to help assist with physical distancing at the plants.
The UFCW leader also said that our union is encouraging Cargill to work with UFCW and the government to determine whether it is safe for the plant to resume regular operations.
“We need to slow down the production, get the physical distancing that we need, make sure that everything is operating well, and keep things consistent, or we risk another outbreak,” Meinema told Stephenson.
“The companies also need to understand that this is not business as usual – that we are in a situation where we have barriers put up, where we are trying to physically distance, and where people are wearing personal protective equipment, and that there are other measures we could be pursuing to further social distancing, like slowing line speeds down,” he added.
The full interview with National President Meinema can be watched below.
Named after the West Block building on Parliament Hill, which currently houses the interim House of Commons chamber, The West Block is Canada’s premier political news and current affairs TV show. To learn more about The West Block, visit the Global TV website.
UFCW Canada is the country’s leading private sector union, representing more than 250,000 union members across Canada working in food retail and processing, as well as other sectors of the economy. To learn more about UFCW’s presence in the Canadian food retail and processing industries, see our union’s latest Annual Report.