USA: Oxfam report finds poultry workers forced to wear nappies as they are denied adequate toilet breaks & suffer danger to health
From Oxfam America:
"Chicken is the most popular meat in America, and the poultry industry is booming. But workers on the processing line do not share in the bounty. Poultry workers 1) earn low wages of diminishing value, 2) suffer elevated rates of injury and illness, and 3) often experience a climate of fear in the workplace.
Despite this, though, workers themselves say that the thing that offends their dignity most is simple: lack of adequate bathroom breaks, and the suffering that entails, especially for women.
The top four chicken companies control roughly 60 percent of the domestic market (Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s, Perdue, and Sanderson Farms), and they can and should implement changes that will improve conditions for poultry workers across the country.
This report is part of Oxfam’s continuing campaign to advocate for improved conditions for US poultry workers. The campaign launched in October 2015, with publication of our comprehensive report, Lives on the Line: The Human cost of Cheap Chicken.
Oxfam America invited all 4 companies to respond to their findings. Responses from Tyson Foods & Perdue are included in the report."
All components of this story
Author: Oxfam America
While the poultry industry today enjoys record profits and pumps out billions of chickens, the reality of life inside the processing plant remains grim and dangerous. Workers earn low wages, suffer elevated rates of injury and illness, toil in difficult conditions, and have little voice in the workplace. Despite all that, though, workers say the thing that offends their dignity most is simple: lack of adequate bathroom breaks, and the suffering that entails, especially for women.
Author: Roberto A. Ferdman, Washington Post
A new report by Oxfam America...alleges that poultry industry workers are "routinely denied breaks to use the bathroom" in order to optimize the speed of production. In some cases, according to the group, the reality is so oppressive that workers "urinate and defecate while standing on the line" and "wear diapers to work." In others, employees say they avoid drinking liquids for long periods and endure considerable pain in order to keep their jobs.
The findings are the result of hundreds of interviews with line workers from some of the largest poultry processing companies in the United States, including Tyson Foods, Pilgrim's, and Perdue. And they bring the current state of the poultry industry into serious question. Competitive forces, they suggest, are driving poultry processors to produce as much meat as possible, as fast as possible, leading companies to mistreat their workers, even if unknowingly.
Author: Sanderson Farms
Sanderson Farms met with representatives of OxFam in our offices in February...and...assured OxFam’s representatives that conditions such as those described in its recent report do not exist in our company. Our policies require all processing plant employees to take regularly scheduled paid breaks, as well as a meal break... [Every] department in our processing plants is staffed with “floating” employees who are responsible for replacing an employee who needs to leave his or her station for any reason... Through an internal investigation into OxFam’s claim...Sanderson Farms has not verified any complaints regarding lack of access to restroom facilities.
Author: Shruti Singh, Bloomberg (USA)
Workers in plants run by the largest U.S. poultry producers are regularly being denied bathroom breaks and as a result some are reduced to wearing diapers while working on the processing line, Oxfam America said in a report Wednesday. “It’s not just their dignity that suffers: they are in danger of serious health problems,” said Oxfam America... The conditions present difficulties, especially for menstruating or pregnant women, according to the latest report. Workers could also face medical problems...
Tyson said in an e-mailed statement that it does “not tolerate the refusal of requests to use the restroom.” Perdue said in an e-mailed response that the “anecdotes reported are not consistent” with the company’s policies and practices. Pilgrim’s Pride said in an e-mailed statement that “any allegations of the nature claimed by Oxfam, if proven, would be clear violations of company policy and would result in disciplinary action.” [also cites joint statement by industry groups National Chicken Council and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association]