Manufacturing AUTOMATION

U.S. poultry workers forced to wear diapers on job: report

May 13, 2016
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

May 13, 2016 – A new report from Oxfam America, an arm of the international anti-poverty and injustice group, says poultry workers in the United States labour in a “climate of fear,” with some forced to wear diapers on the job.

The No Relief: Denial of Bathroom Breaks in Poultry Industry report says many workers are afraid to ask for permission to go to the bathroom. The report says a worker at a Simmons Foods plant in Arkansas told Oxfam that she and many others resorted to wearing diapers. A Tyson Foods worker says in the report that many workers at his North Carolina plant “have to urinate in their pants.”

“When poultry workers are not allowed to use the bathroom, they suffer in myriad ways, from health risks to humiliation. Denial of regular access to the bathroom is a clear violation of U.S. workplace safety law, and may also violate U.S. anti-discrimination laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and civil rights laws outlawing gender and sex discrimination. The harm that results from this denial can be especially acute for women — pregnant women, in particular — and workers with disabilities,” noted the report.

According to The Washington Post, the industry has responded with both concern and denial: “Oxfam says it reached out to all of the companies mentioned in the report, but only heard back from two: Tyson Foods and Perdue. Both said they don’t tolerate the sort of practices mentioned in the report, and cited steps they have taken to make sure working conditions at their processing plants are safe and humane. But only one, Tyson, acknowledged the possibility that there were slip-ups happening under their watch.”


Simmons says the allegations are “troubling” and the refusal of bathroom breaks isn’t tolerated. Tyson says it’s concerned by the claims, but currently has “no evidence they’re true.”

The National Chicken Council says it believes that “such instances are extremely rare.”

Oxfam says the report is part of its continuing campaign to advocate for improved conditions for U.S. poultry workers. The campaign launched in October 2015, with publication of its Lives on the Line: The Human Cost of Cheap Chicken report.

— With files from The Associated Press

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