Man dies at chicken factory

In 2010 an employee at a chicken processing plant in Melbourne was killed by machinery. This tragic and avoidable incident reignited the long-running campaign by the National Union of Workers (NUW) to improve conditions for poultry workers.

Workers at the plant said they never received any counselling after their colleague Sarel Singh’s horrific death and were ordered straight back to work after the line had been cleaned.

Workers also told the NUW of stacks of pallets falling on them and crushing them, shoulder and back injuries from lifting, cuts and abrasions from knives and there had even been lost fingers.

The union organised many of the workers at chicken processing companies to ask questions about their employment conditions, such as:

What’s being done to make sure their work is safe?

What’s being done to make sure the employees get proper wages?

How can the consumer know that the chicken they eat is produced ethically and fairly?

Workers picketed outside the plant and eventually after negotiations a new Agreement was put in place that ensured

  • All workers are to be paid site rates, not $10 cash in hand
  • Redundancy payments more than doubled.
  • Union and delegate rights, and procedures to deal with bullying and harassment have improved to protect workers.

Read the ABC Lateline story about Sarel Singh and the working conditions at the chicken processing plant.

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