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Article

28 May 2021

Author:
Natural Resources Defense Council

Brazil: JBS workers report absence of sanitary measures during the Covid-19 pandemic; 1 in 5 meatpacking workers were contaminated

“JBS' Workers Paid the Ultimate Price, While Profits Surged”, 25 May 2021

...In 2020, JBS posted record net revenues of $51.7 billion. The company’s priority throughout the pandemic was to keep meat processing plants running, with as many workers as possible. JBS’ workers in both Brazil and the U.S. have reported a culture where paid sick leave is lacking—effectively forcing employees to work while sick—and where rules and norms around social distancing and wearing face masks were routinely not enforced...Prosecutors and labor lawyers soon organized to protect workers, petitioning to shut down some of the worst-hit plants. Several months into the pandemic, JBS SA remained the only meatpacker in in Brazil to resist an agreement with the Brazilian Public Labor Ministry (MPT) to improve worker safety. Not until MPT pushed to stop operations at 12 JBS SA plants, did the company finally take steps to protect the health of its workers. At that time, all workers were then tested for COVID-19, and some were provided with PPE...Even then, however, JBS SA refused to offer workers replacement masks on a daily basis, causing employees to reuse contaminated masks for an entire week or more. By August 2020, the MPT estimated that one in five Brazilian meatpacking workers had contracted COVID-19, making it one of the world’s worst sector-wide workplace outbreaks...COVID-19 entered the Dourados Indigenous reserve through JBS employees who tested positive...

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