Union wants Calgary chicken processing plant shut down after COVID-19 outbreak

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The union representing workers at the Sofina Foods/Lilydale poultry processing plant in Calgary is calling for the immediate closure of the plant following a COVID-19 outbreak.

An Alberta Health official confirms there had been 19 cases as of Friday and 18 of those cases are considered active.

The Calgary facility, which also had an outbreak in April, manufactures fresh chicken products and employs about 450 people.

An official with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 401, has called for the immediate closure of the facility until the outbreak has been contained and the workplace is safe.

A request for comment from Sofina Foods was not immediately returned.

READ MORE: Alberta beef plants nearly back to full capacity after COVID-19 outbreaks, but cattle backlog remains

Union president Thomas Hesse said Sofina advised it would cancel the second shift scheduled to work Friday after concern expressed by workers and the union.

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“Health and government authorities, company officials, and union representatives have closely monitored this evolving situation,” Hesse said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, in spite of recent interventions, positive case numbers continue to increase. Whatever is being done is clearly not enough. The risk of spread is too high, and the possible costs are too grave.”

READ MORE: OHS report finds COVID-19 investigation at Cargill High River plant did not include worker representation

Hesse said there are no assurances that work scheduled for next week will be halted and workers have the right to refuse dangerous work.

Sofina Foods operates 16 plants across Canada.

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