We often take for granted that the food which reaches our tables has to be produced and processed by someone before we cook and eat it, and that food might just leave a very bitter taste in our mouths if we knew how the workers who made sure it was ready for us are treated on a daily basis.
A perfect example can be found in a new report from Oxfam America on the plight of workers in American poultry processing plants. According to the report, many are routinely denied the basic right of going to the bathroom when they need to, and are therefore forced to wear diapers as they work on the line.
Oxfam said many poultry workers reported that they were ridiculed, mocked, ignored, and even harassed when they would request a bathroom break from a supervisor. The report goes on to note that some employees:
‘Restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees; they endure pain and discomfort while they worry about their health and job security.’
Further, the shocking report shows that employees often have to wait for an hour or more in long lines to use the bathroom and they risk termination if they cannot accomplish their work within a certain time frame:
‘What would be shocking in most workplaces happens far too often in poultry plants: Workers relieving themselves while standing at their work station. Too many workers tell stories about urinating on themselves, or witnessing coworkers urinating on themselves.’
Oxfam America specifically named Tyson Foods Inc., Perdue Farms Inc., Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., and Sanderson Farms Inc., quoting workers who went by pseudonyms. Here’s one of the horror stories told by workers, most of whom make as little as $8 an hour for the backbreaking, repetitive work:
‘Jean, from a Tyson plant in Virginia, says that even though she’s diabetic, ‘I don’t drink any water so I won’t have to go’
When contacted for comment, a spokesperson with Tyson Foods claimed:
‘We’re concerned about these anonymous claims and while we currently have no evidence they’re true, are checking to make sure our position on restroom breaks is being followed and our Team Members’ needs are being met.’
For their part, Perdue Farms issued a statement in which it said that it’s workers receive two 30-minute breaks during each eight-hour shift. Perdue added:
‘If an associate has a health or other reason why they need more frequent restroom breaks, they can visit the onsite Wellness Center for support services or talk with Human Resources to request an accommodation for their condition.’
Want to know what it’s like to work in a poulty processing plant? Watch this report:
Featured Image Via Oxfam America