Covid-19: German begins plan to protect meat industry

by Akeem Alao
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The German government has disclosed plan to approve better protections for workers in the meat industry.

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted German authorities to improve the poor living and working conditions in the industry.

Following coronavirus outbreaks at several German meatpacking facilities, Germany’s Labor Minister, Hubertus Heil, has disclosed that he is leading a radical move to protect worker, in a way that could radically change the way Germany’s meat industry operates.

The German government has therefore sheduled a meeting for Wednesday May 20, 2020, to decide on labor minister’s proposals to improve oversight in the industry and protections for workers.

The meeting will also discuss how to make companies directly responsible for their workers and raise fines for safety violations to €30,000 ($32,800).

Heil, a member of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), has particularly taken aim at what he termed the industry’s “dubious contract structures with subcontractors” and is pushing for an outright ban on such types of labor arrangements.

“This type of sub-subcontracting is the root of evil because responsibility is passed off, because worker’s rights are violated, because wages are cut,” Heil said.

The push for better protections for migrant workers in Germany’s meat industry intensified after COVID-19 outbreaks erupted at four slaughterhouses across the country—with hundreds of workers from Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and other eastern European countries contracting the virus.

Germany’s meat industry is one of its most profitable, with some 1,500 larger slaughterhouses and meatpacking facilities across the country. According to data from the Federal Statistics Office, the branch employs around 128,000 workers.

The criticism of Germany’s meat industry is not new, but lawmakers have been slow to react.

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