There are strong indications that coronavirus will lead to more slaughterhouse and meat factory closures in the Netherlands, FNV spokesman John Klijn has told the AD, following news of a second outbreak at a Vion plant in the south.
The Groenlo plant, which processes organic pork, was closed on Wednesday after health and safety officials withdrew because of the coronavirus outbreak, farm minister Carola Schouten told MPs. So far 45 people tested positive for the virus and 212 workers out of 600 have been tested.
Vion is the Netherlands’ biggest meat company. Earlier this month another of the company’s plants, in Scherpenzeel, was hit by a coronavirus outbreak when 28 workers from eastern Europe tested positive and were quarantined on a river cruise boat.
A plant operated by Vion in Germany has also been closed, and meat processing factories in France, Spain, Australia, Canada and the US have also been hit by coronavirus outbreaks. According to broadcaster NOS almost one in five US meat industry workers have tested positive.
‘Meat processing is labour intensive and employs a large number of people,’ Klijn told current affairs show Nieuwsuur earlier. ‘And the sector is extra vulnerable because 80% of the workforce are migrant workers who live together and travel to work in small buses. If you then spend the day in a place where social distancing is not possible, then you are asking for problems.’
Nieuwsuur said around half of Vion’s 13,000 workforce comes from abroad.
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