Poultry Industry Workers Forced to Wear Diapers

Chickens ready for the slaughter are treated better than the line workers at some of the largest poultry processing companies here in he United States.  A new report, based on interviews with hundreds of workers found that keeping up with the rate meant no bathroom breaks.

In some cases, according to the group, the reality is so oppressive that workers “urinate and defecate while standing on the line” and “wear diapers to work.” In others, employees say they avoid drinking liquids for long periods and endure considerable pain in order to keep their jobs.

Today, poultry processing plants are allowed to funnel chickens through their assembly lines at a rate of 140 birds per minute, a rate which the industry recently lobbied to increase by another 35 birds per minute. The speed has been great for business, but for those working on the line, it has made for extremely taxing shifts. Just ask Debbie Berkowitz, a senior fellow at the National Employment Law Project who used to work with the government agency that oversaw industry practices. On Wednesday, she published a piece in response to the new report. This is how she described the conditions:

In my work at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, I witnessed the dangers: poultry workers stand shoulder to shoulder on both sides of long conveyor belts, most using scissors or knives, in cold, damp, loud conditions, making the same forceful movements thousands upon thousands of times a day, as they skin, pull, cut, debone and pack the chickens. The typical plant processes 180,000 birds a day. A typical worker handles 40 birds a minute.

This is an enormous amount of chicken processed each day by a single worker.  It is certainly ironic that one screams for the free range bird to have dignity and rights before it becomes dinner, yet an adult line worker loses his dignity because he must wear Pampers to work.

Source: Washington Post




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