Front Burner

Workers could shut down one of Canada's biggest beef plants

Workers at the Cargill plant in Alberta, processor of 40 per cent of Canada’s beef, may go on strike. Today, the CBC’s Joel Dryden on how the pandemic fueled workers’ demands, and what it could mean countrywide.
Union representatives, company officials and members of the media were on hand Monday as the Cargill meat processing plant in High River, Alta., reopened after being closed for about two weeks because of a COVID-19 outbreak. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

In the spring of 2020, the Cargill meat-packing plant in southern Alberta became the site of the largest COVID-19 outbreak tied to a single facility in all of North America. Approximately 950 workers were infected, and three died. 

A year and a half later, COVID-19 appears to be under control at the slaughterhouse. But workers say the underlying working conditions that were laid bare by the pandemic are still there. And now, they're demanding changes.

Workers are currently negotiating a new contract with management, and if their demands aren't met by Dec. 6, they're prepared to strike. And since this one facility is responsible for 40 per cent of the beef processing in Canada, that's put a lot of people on edge.

Today, CBC reporter Joel Dryden on what Cargill workers want, and what it could mean beyond this one facility.

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