The German Minister of Agriculture on Sunday criticized the slaughterhouse in charge local coronavirus outbreaks and lockouts to apply for the wages of workers to be replaced by the state.
“I understand a little about this [decision]”German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner said in an interview with Drawings on Sundays, adding that the case group has affected the entire region.
Last month, a coronavirus outbreak at the Tönnies meat processing plant in the North German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) caused more than 1,500 employees to be infected and trigger lockdown in the two closest districts.
It was Germany’s worst coronavirus outbreak since the country began reducing restrictions in May and sparked widespread criticism about the working and living conditions of most migrant workers in slaughterhouses across the country.
“Citizens’ anger on this matter will certainly not be reduced by current actions,” the minister said.
During the outbreak, several 7,000 employees at the affected Tönnies meat processing plant in Rheda-Wiedenbrück placed under quarantine.
The slaughterhouse applies to state funds
Tönnies – the largest meat processing company in Germany and Europe – last week submitted an application through the German Infection Protection Act. The law provides for company compensation if the health authority closes the factory and applies a quarantine period.
A local official confirmed that the application will be processed after receipt.
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If approved, the NRW state will reimburse Tonnies for its wage costs.
NRW Minister of Labor Karl-Josef Laumann informed Drawings on Sundays there is a possibility that the state will find the claim valid but warn about the message it sends to the public.
“If I were Mr. Tönnies and his business partners, I would think very carefully about what North Rhine-Westphalia residents are really hoping to do,” Laumann said, referring to the director of the managing company Clemens Tönnies.
Criticism from various spectrums
A piece of opinion from Drawings on SundaysThe most popular tabloid in Germany, called the move “bold and shameless.”
German Green Party co-leader Anton Hofreiter said the company’s actions were proof that the promise of reform was “just empty words, and that you cannot have confidence in management.”
Echo picture, he described the application as a bold step.
“Anyone who relies on a system of exploitation, poses a risk to people’s health, and he alone is jointly responsible for the quarantine actions ordered, it is better to refrain from the possibility of grueling reimbursement claims,” Hofreiter said.
Secretary-General of the business-friendly Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP) in the country, Linda Teuteberg called on companies to take responsibility in places that had previously failed in terms of health safety measures.
“The whole region was held hostage because of this. I think it is inappropriate to consider ourselves harmless even at the expense of taxpayers,” Teuteberg said.
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