The COVID-19 outbreaks at meat factories have raised fear about problems in the meat sector.
In Germany, many meat plant workers come from Eastern Europe, who earn a pittance compared to their German colleagues. Many live together in close quarters and are often contracted by outside companies, so they may not be protected by Germany’s labor standards and wage regulations.
More than 3,000 workers at the factory where over 1,000 contracted the coronavirus are sub-contractors. This allows the company to use cheap labor to produce more products and maximize profits.
Peter Schmidt, head of international affairs at the German food workers union NGG, criticized the working conditions in meat plants, describing them as “the absolute worst.”
He said people working for these factories, which provide mass housing to their workers, have to share beds and work 12 hours a day, likening workers to modern-day slaves.