An Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry has uncovered widespread evidence of the mistreatment and exploitation of migrant and agency workers in the meat and poultry processing sector. Workers reported physical and verbal abuse and a lack of proper health and safety protection, with the treatment of pregnant workers a particular concern. Many workers had little knowledge of their rights and feared raising concerns would lead to dismissal. While migrant workers were most affected, British agency workers also faced similar mistreatment. The inquiry uncovered frequent breaches of the law and licensing standards in meat processing factories – some of which supply the UK’s biggest supermarkets – and the agencies that supply workers to them. It also highlighted conditions which flout minimum ethical trading standards and basic human rights.
This is the latest in a series of investigations in the UK and US which documents illegal employment practices by the industries which raise, kill and transform animals into products for human consumption. This exploitation of people, some of whom are among the most disenfranchised in our communities, should be condemned by those groups which campaign against raising animals as food, including factory farming, and vegetarian/vegan advocacy organizations. And, most likely, illegal and unethical employment practices by the animal industrial complex take place throughout the world.