top of page

Read

Germany Takes Action Against Meat Industry

Ben Dolbear reviews the news that Germany will reform its meat industry in light of multiple coronavirus outbreaks directly linked to the sector.

Photo by David Edkins


In the last week of May, over ninety employees at a meat plant in Dissen, Lower Saxony, fell ill with COVID-19. That came after a similar plant in Coesfield found that over one fifth of its staff tested positive for the virus. An infectious problem that has become synonymous with the meat industry in recent months has now prompted the German federal government to take action.


One of the reasons being given for such high rates of infection among meat plant employees is because of the poor conditions in which the often young men who come from abroad are forced to work. Approximately 90,000 people are employed to work in Germany's biggest meat plants, and many of them work and live in very cramped conditions, an impossible environment to practice any form of social distancing measures.



Exploitative Migrant Labour


One plant heavily affected by the virus is Westfleisch, located in North Rhine-Westphalia, where three quarters of tested staff members tested positive, the majority of whom were on low pay and originating from Eastern European nations such as Romania and Bulgaria.


According to Szabolcs Sepsi, who works as a counsellor at DGB Fair Mobility, which 'assists in the enforcement of fair wages and working conditions for migrant workers from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries on the German labour market', commented:


"Workers in the German meat industry work very often through subcontractors, not for the slaughterhouses themselves, and the working conditions at these subcontractors are often very, very bad."



Squalid Working Conditions


The typical conditions for a migrant worker who is employed by a meat plant's subcontractor are likely to include sharing a bedroom with three others, Sepsi continued.


As a result of the shocking revelations, Chancellor Angela Merkel's federal government has announced that as of 2021, slaughterhouses must employ their staff directly, rather than use subcontractors.


It was employment minister Hubertus Heil who led the presentation of the reforms, which also include increased fines for firms in breach of working time directives. Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner backed the draft legislation which must soon be presented to the German Parliament, saying that, 'The delegation of responsibility to subcontractors comes at the expense of many workers. There's an obvious need for adjustment here'.


As recently as December last year, DW, a German public broadcasting service, conducted an investigation into slaughterhouse conditions in Germany for both animals and employees, entitled 'The high cost of cheap meat' with the accompanying hashtag #AnimalRights. It found that unpaid overtime and shifts exceeding sixteen hours were commonplace in the industry.


You may also like: Factory Farming is Risking Future Pandemics

 

We are a socio-ethical impact initiative advocating for topics that matter, whilst supporting wider planetary change and acknowledgement. A charitable initiative funded by readers like you. | To support our work and journalism, consider becoming an advocate from just £1.


Related Posts

See All
  • Twitter
  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White LinkedIn Icon

About

We are an innovative paper with the aim of aiding ones individual right to self-determination and choice. Through research and education, we hope to enable everyone to be informed on the topics that matter.

The causes we raise awareness for are: sustainability, climate change, environmental, nature, health, nutrition, mental health, mindfulness, sentience, science and more.

Support our mission by becoming an advocate today.

Truprint  |  2024

Stay informed with Tru.

By subscribing, you're agreeing to our privacy policy.

Tru Logo White - PNG.png
Front left.png
Preview - Test Cover.png

Our mission is to help society stay informed and much more

All proceeds generated go towards not-for-profit projects and initiatives

Our volunteers care about supporting 

people and the planet

Editor | Rebecca Rothwell

Deputy Editor | Laura Pollard

The

Ethical 

Initiative

Name: The Truprint Group  Account: 37701460   

Sort code: 30-90-89

or PayPal

You can offer assistance in helping us achieve our goals, by becoming an advocate today.

The Truprint Group

  • Twitter
  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White LinkedIn Icon
info_edited.png

Powered by advocates

"In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed."

 

- Charles Darwin

Photo by Brandi Redd

bottom of page