Two dozen of the approximately 600 Perdue Farms workers walked off the job on Tuesday at the company’s plant in Kathleen, Ga., claiming that they were exposed to someone with COVID-19 and felt unsafe.
A worker told WMAZ that some workers on the production line had been in contact people who tested positive for COVID-19 and that the company should do more to protect workers.
“We’re not getting nothing — no type of compensation, no nothing, not even no cleanliness, no extra pay — no nothing. We’re up here risking our life for chicken,” the employee said.
A Perdue Farms spokesperson told Feedstuffs Thursday that the employees had returned to work after speaking with management and that there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any of the company’s facilities at this time.
“After speaking with management, the majority of them returned to work. We know that many are feeling anxious during these uncertain times, and we’re doing everything we can to take good care of our associates while continuing to produce safe and reliable food,” Perdue Farms said.
All products continue to be inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and produced with the highest standards of safety and quality, it added.
The company also relayed that it has put additional associate recognition programs in place to increase pay for a set time period for hourly associates and is providing bonuses two months early. Additionally, Perdue Farms said it had already proactively implemented a number of preventative measures to protect the health of its employees, including increased sanitation and cleaning (above and beyond the full sanitization that all of its facilities receive every 24 hours) and encouraging workers to stay home if they are not feeling well or think they may have been exposed to the virus.
“We have extended the hours of many of the on-site wellness centers at our facilities, which are available to all associates and their families free of charge. Importantly, we are also working to make our paid leave policies even more flexible during this time to be responsive and provide added relief to associates,” the company said, adding that it is grateful to everyone in the food supply chain, including its employees, who are “working tirelessly to ensure the continuation of food production across the country – and globally – to keep people fed as the world grapples with and recovers from this significant challenge.”