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.