German slaughterhouses, COVID-19 epicentres

This 22 December 2019 video from Germany says about itself:

The high cost of cheap meat: Dangerous slaughterhouse working conditions (4/4) | DW News

Working in a slaughterhouse is a challenging job. Shortcuts are taken to keep the price of meat down. But what is the quality of life of workers employed in German slaughterhouses and what are their working conditions? DW talked to some of them.

That was 22 December 2019. Before the coronavirus disaster.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

German meat industry, coronavirus epicentre …

The number of corona infections has been declining in Germany for weeks. But much to the chagrin of Chancellor Angela Merkel and many politicians, there is one sector that keeps causing outbreaks: the meat industry.

In Bad Bramstedt, for example, a small town north of Hamburg, a slaughterhouse of the Dutch corporation Vion is shut down because 128 workers had to be quarantined due to a coronavirus infection.

According to regional official Torsten Wendt, who has given Vion’s mainly Romanian employees house arrest, the company has tried in summary proceedings … to get the … people back to work.

In vain. …

Massive outbreaks

It is no surprise, according to the Food and Restaurant Trade Union, that employees in the meat industry across Germany have been infected with coronavirus. “It is mainly the housing several people have to live in a room and the transport with small vans that make people become infected quickly“, says Marcel Mansouri of the NGG trade union.

“Of all the vital professions in the food industry that simply continued working during Corona, we only see such massive outbreaks in the meat industry.”

The Romanians who work at the Vion site in Bad Bramstedt are housed by the employment agency DSZ in a former barracks in Kellinghusen. They are now guarded there to prevent them from quarantining and sneakingly buying groceries. …

The Romanian women are very afraid to say anything. For fear of losing their job at the corporation, but mainly because they are afraid of the virus itself. …

There are active local residents, such as Anja Halbbitter, who has been concerned about the situation of the Romanians for years. “We were so shocked to discover how people should live here that we set up a support committee. We want to show that we are there for them,” said Halbbitter.

In the Netherlands, contamination in the meat industry has also been reported. So far, 28 employees of a VION location in Scherpenzeel have been tested positive for coronavirus. …

It is unclear how many employees have or have had corona in the Dutch meat sector. They live under the same conditions as their Romanian colleagues across the German border.

Growing resistance in Germany to returning to schools as coronavirus pandemic continues. By Andy Niklaus and Carola Kleinert, 18 May 2020. Resistance is growing among German teachers and pupils against this irresponsible policy, which threatens to turn schools into new hotspots of COVID-19.

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