Several Dozen Cargill workers are protesting outside the plant north of High River Monday, May 4.

Among them is UFCW Local 401 President, Tom Hesse, who represents the workers.

He says it's important they put a face on the workers at the plant and their struggles with COVID-19.

"To a lot of Canadians these workers are kind of invisible. They just see the meat on the supermarket shelf and don't really contemplate where it came from. It's an unfortunate circumstance. We're seeing a real stigma being attached to Alberta beef and the Alberta beef industry. And we're really calling on the government to really make this better and calling on Cargill to make this better."

UFCW Local 401 President, Tom Hesse, is standing with the workers outside the Cargill beef processing plant Monday.

Hesse, says it's not just about getting steaks out to consumers.

"We've got to respect human life. And everybody knows what COVID-19 is about. I mean, there's no vaccine, there's no treatment and there's no cure. This is the single largest outbreak associated with a workplace in North America. It's really a national embarrassment, and an Alberta embarrassment. We need to clean this situation up and do it now."

Hesse says they're not stopping anyone, workers or others from getting into the plant.

He says they're offering information and guidance.

"The Union's job is to give people advice and to give people a voice and representation, but to embolden people and put them in a position where they can make their own individual decisions. And in Canada and every jurisdiction, including Alberta, there's a law that talks about the right to refuse unsafe work. In Alberta if a worker reasonably believes that their work is dangerous, then they don't have to do it."

Hesse says keeping the plant open is hurting the workers, the beef industry, Albertans and Canadians.


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