People who work in chicken and turkey processing plants run by America's biggest poultry producers are routinely denied bathroom breaks. Because of this, some resort to wearing diapers while they're at work on the processing line, Oxfam America said in a report released Wednesday.
`They are in danger of serious health problems,' says the report.
Read the Oxfam report in entirety here: "Lives on the line: The human cost of cheap chicken."
Oxfam's immersive website 'Lives on the Line' uses multimedia to convey the experiences of workers inside the poultry plant.
Working in America's meat industry has been awful for laborers for generations. Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel, "The Jungle," documented workplace abuses in 1906. And the modern U.S. poultry industry's awfulness was highlighted in the 2008 documentary Food Inc..
From the report intro [PDF]:
Chicken is the most popular meat in America , and the poultry industry is booming. Profits are climbing, consumer demand is growing, and executive compensation is increasing rapidly.
But one element remains trapped at the bottom: the workers on the poultry processing line. Poultry workers 1) earn low wages of diminishing value, 2) suffer elevated rates of injury and illness, and 3) often experience a climate of fear in the workplace.
These problems affect the entire industry, but the top four chicken companies control roughly 60 percent of the domestic market: Tyson Foods, Pilgrim's, Perdue, and Sanderson Farms. As industry leaders, these companies can and should implement changes that will improve conditions for poultry workers across the country.
From Bloomberg News:
The report cited unnamed workers from Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim's Pride Corp., Perdue Farms Inc. and Sanderson Farms Inc. who said that supervisors mock them, ignore requests and threaten punishment or firing. When they can go, they wait in long lines even though they are given limited time, sometimes 10 minutes, according to the report. Some workers have urinated or defecated themselves while working because they can't hold on any longer, the report said. Some workers "restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees," Oxfam said.
(…) In a 2015 report, Oxfam said the cost of cheap chicken in the U.S. is workers who face low wages, suffer elevated rates of injury and illness and face a climate of fear in the workplace.