Coronavirus: Cargill plant shuts down amid COVID-19 outbreak

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A widespread COVID-19 outbreak at a London chicken processing plant has led to a two-week shutdown.

The Cargill facility located at Cuddy Boulevard off of Oxford Street East is grappling with a large outbreak that has affected 82 employees so far.

Tim Deelstra, spokesperson for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union locals 175 and 633, confirmed the plant is closing for 14 days starting Wednesday.

“The situation is very concerning and the union is in constant contact with the employer and workers with the focus on keeping the workers as healthy and safe as possible,” Deelstra told Blackburn News on Tuesday.

The poultry plant says it is working with the Middlesex London Health Unit to ensure appropriate prevention, testing and cleaning and that employees are following quarantine protocols at home.

“This was a difficult decision for our team who are operating an essential service and are committed to delivering food for families across Canada and ensuring the resilience of our supply chain,” said Derek Hill, the general manager for the London facility.

“But ultimately, our employee’s safety and well-being come first. They are everyday heroes on the frontlines of our food system.”

Cargill says all employees will receive a weekly guarantee of 36 hours of payment for the duration of the shutdown.

Deelstra adds that the outbreak highlights the need for workers to receive vaccine priority.

“The union has advocated for frontline essential workers to be prioritized for vaccine access since vaccines were available.”

Cargill says safety measures have been implemented at the facility since the start of the pandemic and they will remain in place once the plant resumes operations.

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