Cargill says it is resuming beef processing operations, with support from Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Occupational, Health and Safety (OHS), at High River on Monday morning (May 4).
The company says it will be running two harvesting shifts, with fabrication resuming on May 6.
The union representing 2,000 employees at the plant has taken legal action to try to stop the company from reopening the facility, following a large COVID-19 outbreak among employees.
“We are grateful for our workers’ dedication and resilience as our plant and community walks through this heart-wrenching pandemic. We are poignantly aware that being an essential worker is not easy. The health and safety of our employees continues to be our top priority,” the company says, in a statement issued Monday morning.
A representative of the UFWC Local 401 union says that the unfair labour practice complaint is still outstanding and that they worked through the weekend with a mediator regarding the complaint. The union is asking that the plant be closed and remain closed until its specific and over-arching health and safety concerns are addressed.
The rep says that there are still concerns on the processing line, but that other areas of the plant, such as washrooms and lunch rooms, are also in need of added safeguards. Two union representatives were on site Monday for the re-opening of the plant.
The High River plant workers are not in a legal strike position, and the union says it is not asking its members to stop working, however, all workers have the right to refuse work they believe to be unsafe (under Alberta’s OHS rules), and that they would stand by any worker who chose that route.