Germany to ban subcontracting in meatpacking industry after virus outbreaks

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BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will order meatpacking plants to stop using subcontractors and to improve hygiene standards in the workplace and accommodations, after more than 600 cases of coronavirus among workers in the industry, a draft government proposal said.

Labour Minister Hubertus Heil of the Social Democrats, junior coalition partners of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, plans to present the proposals to Germany’s “corona cabinet” on Monday. Reuters reviewed a draft.

Recent outbreaks have shone a spotlight on a sector that relies on workers from Eastern European countries, especially Romania, often hired by subcontractors and living in cramped accommodation near processing plants.

“Insufficient hygiene and a lack of safety measures, especially in accommodation and during transport, can lead to infections among workers and subsequent dangerous outbreaks,” the labour ministry’s draft proposal said.

Infections at slaughterhouses in several German states have been accompanied by reports that social distancing and hygiene standards were ignored, it added.

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