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August 11, 2020 - The Guardian

NETHERLANDS: 'I feel worthless': workers tell of gruelling life in Dutch meat plants

NETHERLANDS: 'I feel worthless': workers tell of gruelling life in Dutch meat plants
Illustration of workers on meat processing lineCredit: Human Rights Watch

The Netherlands is a food powerhouse but its dark underbelly has been exposed by Covid-19, say unions. Trapped in jobs that make them feel worthless, meat plant workers have spoken out about working life in an industry accused of using temporary agencies to avoid employment responsibilities.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, Romanian and Polish workers described intimidation and gruelling conditions on the factory floor, inconsistent coronavirus measures and feeling afraid to report sickness, in a joint investigation by the Guardian and Lighthouse Reports.

All are employed by agencies and most are currently working at, or have recently left, the Dutch company Van Rooi Meat. “We feel like animals,” said Joe*. “All the workers are unhappy with these conditions … but people are afraid to talk.” Another worker said: “I feel worthless.”

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