With outbreak now at 62 cases, meat-packing workers' union calls for Beauce plant closure
MONTREAL -- Another 22 workers tested positive for COVID-19 at a quickly growing outbreak at a meat-packing plant near Quebec City, spurring its workers’ union to call for its closure.
One man has died so far from the Olymel pork plant in Vallée-Jonction, and one death is too many, said the union.
“We are asking for the employer to close it down,” said David Bergeron-Cyr, the president of the FC-CSN union.
“You know, at Yamachiche, there were a lot of cases, but nobody died, and they closed it to be sure the virus is eradicated.”
The plant he was referring to, in Trois-Rivieres, closed temporarily during the first wave of COVID-19 after about 100 workers tested positive.
It’s not clear yet if the man’s death is due to the virus, but he tested positive for it the day before he died.
With the 22 new cases, there’s now a total of 62 people infected at Vallée-Jonction. The company said this week that it was the local public health department’s decision that it should stay open.
“The public health authorities, at the end of this visit, recommended that at this moment there is no reason to close the plant, to close the activities, so the plant is still in operation,” said Olymel spokesperson Richard Vigneault.
The union says that’s not a good enough explanation.
“It's hardworking families that have to be respected,” said Bergeron-Cyr. “Close it down.”
Workers staged a moment of silence on Thursday to honour their colleague.
He’s been identified as 65-year-old Alain Grenier. Both the union and company said their sympathies are with his family.