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Protests continue at Alberta's Cargill meat processor where 949 workers tested positive for COVID-19
HIGH RIVER, ALTA. -- For the third day in a row, organizations representing Alberta workers demonstrated at the Cargill meat processing plant near High River, opposing the reopening of the site and saying that safety concerns persist.
The Alberta Federation of Labour, Union for Food and Commercial and members of the United Nurses of Alberta rallied at the employee entrance on Wednesday.
The plant resumed operations Monday after a two-week shut down due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
"We saw strong attendance on both shifts on (Monday) and again yesterday, while remaining focused on continuing safe operations," a company spokesperson said Wednesday.
A total of 949 workers have tested positive for COVID-19, and one — Biu Thi Hiep, an employee with more than two decades with Cargill — died.
The company reported Wednesday 810 workers have recovered.
Community spread is estimated at around 1,500 cases.
AFL president Gil McGowan is calling for the provincial government to step in.
"The premier and his cabinet have started the conversation about reopening the economy and we're here to say, 'not so fast,'" he said. "If this province doesn’t start looking at the COVID crisis through the lens of workplace health and safety, we are worried we are going to see more Cargills."
Cargill employee Francis Ngitang spoke with CTV news before the start of his shift Wednesday, and said he is concerned about returning to the plant, and sad for the loss of a colleague.
"We don't even make much money," he said. "But we just want to put the food on the table for you guys."
The AFL has released a set of conditions it wants companies and government to follow.
It asks for the thoughts of concerned employees to be given higher priority and for health and safety committees to be re-established, among others.
Demonstrations at the site are expected to continue throughout the week.