In light of extensive reductions to staff numbers across Victoria’s abattoirs and after 45 employees of JBS Brooklyn, an abattoir in Melbourne’s west, refused to return to work out of fear for their safety following a COVID-19 outbreak, PETA has written to the meatworkers’ union with an offer to cover the cost of retraining staff in the nonviolent profession of floral design.
Abattoir employees know better than anyone that the rate of illness and injury for workers in the meat industry is four times the national average, since staff are often forced to work at reckless speeds in order to maximise production.
In fact, Cedar Meats staff only became aware of a COVID-19 outbreak in May after a worker was rushed to hospital following a workplace accident in which his thumb was severed. Now there is the additional concern that, as Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, noted, “[m]eatworks are particularly vulnerable” to COVID-19, as 339 active cases of the virus have so far been linked to abattoirs in Victoria.
Melbourne is not unique in this. Other outbreaks have been reported in abattoirs in France, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, the UK and the US.
In addition, the bloody, gruesome process of slaughtering, dismembering and packaging the corpses of sentient individuals involves constant cruelty to animals and can lead workers to experience mental and other physical health problems.
Cramming animals together on filthy factory farms, in abattoirs, and in meat markets threatens the health of everyone by creating a breeding ground for deadly diseases – and potential pandemics. Long before the novel coronavirus apparently originated in a “wet market” in China, H1N1 swine flu was traced back to a US factory farm. H5N1 bird flu – which can be contracted by humans who come into close contact with infected live or dead birds – has a mortality rate of up to 60%. The World Health Organization considers it a particular concern because of its potential to mutate and become highly infectious via human-to-human contact.
Working in a slaughterhouse is a dangerous, dirty job. As the world looks towards cleaner, kinder, ways of living, PETA is more than happy to help those who wish to get out of this violent, bloody industry and into sustainable, compassionate – and safer – work.
You can help too. Every time we sit down to eat, we’re either feeding or fighting injustice. to You can help change our food system, protect the environment, and reduce both the danger to workers and the suffering of animals if you stop supporting the exploitation and slaughter of living, feeling beings. Please, eat as if all our lives depended on it, because they do.