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Article

24 Apr 2020

Author:
Open Democracy

USA: COVID-19 exposes serious labour rights violations amongst immigrant agricultural workers

“COVID-19 sweeping through US immigrant farmworker and meatpacker ranks”, 23 de abril de 2020

…The elevated bacterial load as well as additional exposure to often carcinogenic pesticides and other chemicals, make farmworkers and meat processors particularly vulnerable to illness.

The largely immigrant work force is composed partly of H2A seasonal visa holders, tending and harvesting the agricultural fields through the warmer months, and a larger proportion of year round undocumented workers, also working the fields as well as staffing poultry and pork processing factories…

Migrant and seasonal farmworkers live crowded together in makeshift housing, sometimes just simple particle board structures with communal toilets. They bus to the fields to perform the backbreaking and dangerous labor employers struggle to find native-born workers to do. Sanitary facilities are almost non-existent…

Aside from the lack of protective equipment, distancing and other safeguards for agricultural and meat processing workers, shutdowns due to Covid-19 reveal the lack of basic benefits such as sick days and unemployment insurance. “I work in the fields with tobacco and sweet potatoes, but I’ve been out of work since February because of the coronavirus,” said Flor at the teleconference…

Tyson Foods Inc., the country’s biggest meat processor, is still not offering paid sick days, but says it is “eliminating any punitive effect for missing work due to illness.”

[Article mentions the following companies: Tyson Foods, JBS, Empire Kosher, Olymel, Smithfield Foods, Mountaire Farms, Pilgrim’s Pride]

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