CALGARY — The union representing workers at the Cargill meat processing plant in High River, Alta. is taking legal action to stop it from being reopened on Monday.
Nearly half of the 2,000 employees at the plant have tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the operation to be idled just under two weeks ago.
On Wednesday, the company announced plans to resume operations on May 4.
“Cargill and the Government of Alberta have ignored our calls for a worker-centred approach to ensuring the plant is safe,” said United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 president Thomas Hesse in a statement.
“Alberta Health Services inspection reports have not been shared with us, and Occupational Health and Safety inspections have omitted the serious concerns we have raised.”
Hesse added they plan to “use every legal avenue available to us to keep the Cargill High River plant closed until we are able to ensure the safety of workers employed there and that their voices have been heard.”
“Food workers are afraid to go to work in the current environment. They lack the economic security they need to recover, and they are terrified of bringing this illness to their families and communities,” he said.
“While they try to recover, their employer and government are telling them to get back to work. This recklessly endangers their lives and puts the interests of their bosses first.”
If a stop work order is not granted, the union says it will ask for an OHS officer to be assigned to observe on Monday and Wednesday next week to ensure there is physical distancing between workers.
High River is about 20 minutes south of Calgary.