The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 401 says COVID-19 cases at an Alberta plant have grown in the last few days.
In a post on the Union's facebook page, Local President Thomas Hesse says there are at least 38 confirmed cases at a single food processing plant in Alberta, although the plant was not named.
Only days ago, he says, there were five.
The union wants an immediate two-week closure of food processing plants to conduct a comprehensive assessment of their safety.
They're also calling for guaranteed full compensation for employees during this temporary shutdown.
They also want an immediate meeting with union officials, experts, and government officials to design clear and enforceable rules around health and safety in the workplace.
Cargill released a statement Monday afternoon:
Statement attributable to Jon Nash, Cargill Protein – North America Lead
“As we continue to prioritize the health and safety of Cargill employees, we have decided to temporarily reduce shifts at our High River protein plant. This will allow us to minimize the impact of COVID-19 and continue follow health department guidelines. This was a difficult decision for our team, but our values are guiding our actions.
We want our employees and the community to know we care. We’ve taken extra steps to focus on safety and remain operational – including temporary wage increases, bonuses and waiving co-pays for COVID-19 testing. We also implemented additional safety measures like temperature testing, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, prohibiting visitors, adopting social distancing practices where possible and offering staggered breaks and shift flexibility. Our facility will be back to operating at full capacity as soon as is it is safe to do so.
Every person affected is a valued member of our team. Our employees are working hard to keep food on tables in local communities. While this location is working at reduced capacity and we adapt to operating during a pandemic, our work doesn’t stop. Cargill provides an essential service to the world—providing the ingredients, feed and food that nourishes people and animals. We are working with farmers and ranchers, our customers and our employees to supply food in this time of crisis and keep markets moving.”
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