Oxfam's Latest Report Highlights Plight of Poultry Workers
Factory farms are not only an issue of animal rights and welfare, human health and environmental concerns. They also represent the violation of the rights of workers.
A recent report by Oxfam has caused a stir due to the alarming testimonies of many poultry workers, including those who work with some of the biggest chicken processing companies, including Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s and Perdue. As a result of increasing competition, these companies continue focusing on responding to high demand at faster rates, resulting in them going through 140 chickens per minute through their assembly lines.
While there are of course laws in place to ensure the basic rights of workers–such as being able to use the bathroom when needed, according to the Oxfam report, many workers stated they were made to wait over an hour for someone to swap places with them so they could use the bathroom. In other cases when no help arrived, others had to urinate or defecate while working the line. As a result, one worker told Oxfam:
“I had to wear Pampers. I and many, many others had to wear Pampers.”
The report acknowledged that women–especially pregnant women, are hit particularly hard by the situation, and that all workers “earn low wages, suffer elevated rates of injury and illness, toil in difficult conditions, and have little voice in the workplace.” As supervisors may deny any request to use the restrooms depending on the progress and stress of the day, Oxfam grimly described the situation:
“Workers are reduced to pieces of the machine, little more than the body parts that hang, cut, trim, and load—rapidly and relentlessly.”
Oxfam concluded the report by suggesting policy changes that would result in workers feeling “healthy, safe, and dignified at work”. To read the review in its entirety, visit this link.