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Reprint of Article:  Union questions worker safety as Cargill reopens plant at centre of COVID-19 outbreak

May 4, 2020 - 5:30pm

Bryan has discerned, without a doubt, that the allegations made by certain governments that the coronavirus initially was manufactured in a lab or was mistakenly released from a lab in China is absolutely not true. 

Unfortunately, all those who truly believe that the coronavirus came from a lab are going through bad karma, just like those who do not believe in past lives.  All of them are also going through bad karma.  We cannot convince them to believe what Bryan is saying is true, one way or another, because whatever their belief is, whatever their bad karmic debt is:  they wrote their own life script before they came into this matrix.  It is what it is. 

The evidence of what Bryan has been saying about the connection between the coronavirus and cruelty towards animals is mounting every day.  Who would believe that 1,000 out of a total of 2,000 employees at a Cargill meat packing plant would test positive for the coronavirus?  And what is going on with Tyson meat packers in the US and other American plants:  this information is forthcoming to the public. 

The last main article that Bryan posted (https://www.clarityradio.com/blog/free-will-canadian-bad-karmic-timeline-go-through-coronavirus) shows that the coronavirus problem in Canada can be effectively managed; it is not a big enough problem to shut the economy down, cause the stock market to crash, and cause certain western governments to participate in political terrorism against the Chinese government.  Bryan urges the Canadian government not to put Canadians or Canada’s economy in harm’s way and not to participate in political terrorism. 

In reference to the last article that was posted, it was intended to help governments across Canada in formulating a good strategy on which parts of Canada need the most funding.  Keep in mind, there is very little COVID virus in Jasper, Alberta and the tourist industry there has basically completely shut down, along with other parts of Canada, where their economies are reliant on tourism.  These parts of Canada will require additional funding, maybe up to another eight months.  Even when the planes start to fly again, how many people from other parts of the world will come and visit Jasper so quickly? 

Bryan says he can talk for eight hours on this.  This is simply a small example of what we need to think about.  Provinces should not, under any circumstances, have the same restrictive policies.  It should not be a blanket policy.  Look at the centres across Canada that have not been vulnerable.  Focus on the major centres across Canada that slaughter animals and use animals in research, etc.  Then, after this document has been read, what is the next thing we all have to do?  Bryan says we all have to wake up from our sleep. 

 

Union questions worker safety as Cargill reopens plant at centre of COVID-19 outbreak

Carrie TaitTavia GrantTu Thanh Ha And Kathryn Blaze Baum
High River, Alta.

Published May 4, 2020 

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-union-questions-worker-safety-as-cargill-reopens-plant-at-centre-of/

Cargill Ltd. reopened its High River, Alta. plant on Monday amid continued tensions with the union representing workers at the site of Canada’s largest COVID-19 outbreak.

The company said it opened with two shifts after a two-week shutdown, beginning with its harvest department, also referred to as the kill floor. Fabrication shifts – where the meat is processed – will reopen on Wednesday.

About a dozen union officials lined the access road to the plant, which is in a rural area just north of High River. They handed incoming employees black cloth facemasks branded with "Safety First" and a union update, using grabbers with broom handles attached to keep a safe distance.

"At this moment, we have been unable to convince any government or legal authority to have the courage to step in and ensure the plant remains closed until safety is assured," the update said. "Our lawyers are looking at new strategies."

The union has a representative inside the plant on Monday, Michael Hughes, a union spokesman, said outside Cargill’s gates.

"We don't think it is safe in there," Mr. Hughes said. His group has not yet heard from the representative inside. The union does not know how many labourers reported to work.

Cargill, when it outlined plans to reopen, said employees would be able to ride schools buses retrofitted with seat partitions to get to work. At least three buses arrived at the plant Monday morning, although one ferried only one employee and another was empty, save for the driver.

A small convoy of union officials drove back and forth on the highway in front of the plant in the morning, honking horns and flying yellow union flags out the windows.

Officers in three marked RCMP vehicles supervised the gathering.

Union officials were not preventing anyone from accessing the site.

A security guard wearing a blue surgical mask asked anyone inside gate who was not working to leave.

“Off the property please,” he said.

The union still has “grave concerns” about the plant reopening, it said in a late-night press release, following a weekend of negotiations between United Food and Commercial Workers local 401 and the company. As of Sunday, 935 employees at the facility that accounts for 36 per cent of the country’s beef production had tested positive. One employee has died, Bui Thi Hiep. Workers will take part in an online tribute to her on Monday.

In a statement Monday, Cargill said all employees “who are healthy and eligible to work in our harvest department are asked to report to work.”

“We are poignantly aware that being an essential worker is not easy,” it said. “The health and safety of our employees continues to be our top priority,” it said, adding that Alberta Health Services is onsite.

“We will conduct our ongoing screening to safeguard employees and ensure no one exhibiting symptoms enters the facility.”

Cargill announced last week it would resume operations Monday. The union, in response, sought a stop-work order from Alberta Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and filed an unfair labour practice complaint, naming Cargill and​ the provincial government as respondents.

Alberta is home to Canada’s two largest COVID-19 outbreaks – the first tied to Cargill’s operations in High River and the second at JBS Canada’s beef-processing facility in Brooks.

Globe and Mail investigation into the Cargill outbreak revealed an environment in which employees, who are largely immigrants and temporary foreign workers, said they felt pressured to continue working even as the COVID-19 numbers continued to rise. A number of employees said the company’s medical staff cleared them to continue working despite symptoms, positive COVID-19 test results, incomplete isolation periods and recent travel abroad. Employees said they were not provided with adequate personal protective equipment; masks were not required until April 16.

Meanwhile, 444 workers at JBS have been infected with the virus. Alberta counts 970 positive cases in and around Brooks. Not all of these cases are necessarily linked to JBS, according to Jessica Lucenko, a spokeswoman for Alberta Health.

JBS is running one shift, down from two. One JBS employee has died of COVID-19.

Neither the OHS nor Alberta Health Services issued stop-work orders to Cargill or to JBS. Other provinces have taken a different approach. In British Columbia, public-health authorities shut down several poultry processing plants, following investigations, amid concerns over outbreaks of COVID-19 among workers. Last week, Fraser Health ordered the Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry plant to remain closed until it can demonstrate “that they meet the parameters of the order, which includes addressing deficiencies at the site.”

The Alberta Labour Relations Board held negotiations all weekend, with representatives from Cargill, the union and the workers, to discuss health and safety issues at the plant, according to the UFCW.

In a statement to employees emailed just after midnight, the union said it was not satisfied with the outcome of the talks but advised employees who are healthy and cleared to return to work to report to their supervisors, and to refuse to work if they don’t feel safe.

“Unfortunately, the situation has not been resolved. At this moment, we have been unable to convince any government or legal authority to have the courage to step in and ensure the plant remains closed until safety is assured. Our lawyers are looking at new strategies,” the statement said, adding that an Alberta Labour Relations Board representative visited the plant Sunday.

William Johnson, chair of the Labour Relations Board, said negotiations started Saturday morning.

Asked whether they had to wrap up mediation before the plant could reopen, he said: “That’s independent. Right now, the company will decide if it opens.”

The union said a poll it conducted in recent days, sent to Cargill workers in four languages, showed 80 per cent of respondents oppose the May 4 reopening of the plant, while 85 per cent said they are afraid to return to work. (The survey was conducted Friday and Saturday and the results are based on about 650 responses).

“We opposed reopening an unsafe workplace and at this stage, as of this moment, the union is not convinced that it’s yet safe,” said Thomas Hesse, president of UFCW local 401, in an interview Sunday.

Ms. Hiep, the Cargill employee who died, was in her 60s and worked at the Alberta meat-packing plant for more than two decades. Her death, two weeks ago, has left her husband, Nguyen Nga, uncertain of his future.

"In this country, if you work they’ll think of you. When you no longer work, I’m not sure you’ll be remembered,” he said in an interview.

“There were just the two of us. She’s gone now and I am on my own,” the 67-year-old Mr. Nga said, speaking in Vietnamese. “I don’t know what I will do next. I’m at an older age. I’ll take each day as it comes. I have no plan.”

Ms. Hiep came from Ba Ria-Vung Tau, a coastal province in southern Vietnam. She and her husband arrived in Canada in 1992 and settled in the Calgary area. He said he worked for different employers while she was at Cargill the whole time.

“She was pleasant and easy-going, she had no problems," Mr. Nga said.

Numerous Cargill workers with whom the Globe has spoken to in the past week have said they’re concerned about returning to work, and concerned about paying the bills if they don’t.

“We don’t have a choice,” one worker said on Sunday. “If we decided not to go back, I don’t know what would [happen] to us.”

The employee and her husband both work at the plant, and COVID-19 infected them both. Her husband will return to his job May 6, but she has told her supervisor that she needs to stay home while some of her children recover from COVID-19. The supervisor, she said, was understanding.

“We have a lot of kids and we don’t want it again,” she said. The Globe is not revealing the identities of the employees it spoke with, because of their privacy concerns and because they fear retaliation from Cargill. Some employees said that while they’re fearful about returning to the plant, they will resume their jobs because they need the money and don’t want to jeopardize their employment with the company.

ActionDignity, an ethno-cultural community group, helped organized the commemoration for Ms. Hiep.

“She’s been known as ‘the worker who died,’" Marichu Antonio, executive director of ActionDignity, said. “We want to put the face to it and emphasize that these people are human beings. … Maybe it’s about time that we think about how we’re treating these workers.”

By several accounts, it was just a matter of a few days between when Ms. Hiep started to feel unwell and when she died.

Ms. Hiep, who spoke little English, worked on the fabrication side of the plant, where beef is cut, ground and packaged. Working in refrigerator-temperature conditions with her back to a fan, she was responsible for picking out the bones from the meat that gets processed into hamburgers.

“I’ve heard stories that she had to wear five layers of sweaters, eight hours a day,” Ms. Antonio said. “People need to understand that [the workers] are making sacrifices for us, behind the scenes. We need to appreciate them the way we appreciate doctors, nurses and truck drivers.”

The debate about the future of the plant rang hollow to Ms. Hiep’s widower.

‘’The illness happened," he said. "They could close or reopen, do I have a say?”