Plant workers for some of the largest poultry producers in the United States are being forced to work in truly horrific conditions as their parent companies generate billions in profits. According to a new report from Oxfam America, some of these employees are being denied bathroom breaks and have resorted to wearing diapers while processing the food you eat.
Three of the biggest companies are named in the report.
The report cited unnamed workers from Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., Perdue Farms Inc. and Sanderson Farms Inc. who said that supervisors mock them, ignore requests and threaten punishment or firing. When they can go, they wait in long lines even though they are given limited time, sometimes 10 minutes, according to the report. Some workers have urinated or defecated themselves while working because they can’t hold on any longer, the report said. Some workers “restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees,” Oxfam said.
The poultry companies deny the allegations, but Oxfam says they have heard similar stories before from industry employees, and allege that supervisors ignore established company policy.
Oxfam has put together an online campaign with the hashtag #GiveThemABreak to highlight these horrific business practices. They also point out the contradiction in how workers are being treated versus company profits.
“I was stunned when poultry workers in Arkansas told me that people regularly wear diapers to work in the plants,” says Minor Sinclair, Director of Oxfam America’s US Program. “They feel they have to put up with this, to keep their jobs. The supervisors do whatever they can to keep the line running at breakneck speed, and the companies turn a blind eye, as they’re racking up record profits. It feels like something out of ‘The Jungle,’ from a hundred years ago, but it’s happening right now. It just isn’t right.”
This is nothing short of despicable, and the labor board needs to investigate immediately.
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