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NDP say UCP must shut down Cargill plant

by Morinville News Staff

Alberta’s NDP Official Opposition wants the UCP government to shut down the Cargill meat processing plant in High River until legal requirements to engage workers on their safety are met.

Citing a May 8 Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) demand report that states Cargill did not engage its workers in an internal review of the circumstances that led to 952 confirmed COVID-19 cases among workers at the plant.

“How can Jason Kenney and Jason Copping possibly allow this plant to stay open when the employer is disregarding the law, and more importantly, ignoring its own workers?” said Alberta NDP Labour Critic Christina Gray. “There is no safety plan if workers are not included.”

The May 8 Demand Report gives Cargill until May 18 to report the time, place, and nature of any worker exposure to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 exposures at the worksite, carry out an investigation into the circumstances surrounding any worker exposure to confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 on the worksite, and to prepare a report outlining the circumstances of the incident and the corrective actions undertaken to prevent a recurrence. Cargill is also to provide a copy of the report to OHS and the employer’s joint work site health and safety committee.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported Monday that a second death had occured among workers at the plant. That worker had been hospitalized a month earlier.

Monday’s briefing also indicated there are currently 36 active cases among the plant’s workers, and that 911 had recovered.

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A May 7 statement on Cargill’s website says the company is “consulting health experts and implementing new protocols as they are identified to protect our employees from the community-wide impacts of the virus. Standards are evolving as this virus progresses, and we are continuously learning about new ways to protect employees.”

The company statement goes on to say the company believes it “can meet safety standards and Cargill’s high food quality standards.”

Cargill has approximately 2000 employees and processes 4500 head of cattle per day.

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