Vion slaughters animals, pigs mostly and also cows.
Vion also exploits workers. Earlier this year, COVID-19 infections spread to such an extent that several slaughterhouses were shut down by the government in order to contain the pandemic.
However, in Boxtel no-one seems to cares about the workers and the facility stayed open. Cold spaces, staff too close together: an outbreak was just a matter of time. What makes matters worse are the workers relations. Vion has only temporary workers on the kill floor, mainly migrant workers from Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and other countries in Eastern Europe. These migrant workers live in houses that are often not better than sheds, too many in one room, with poor facilities, and poor hygiene: a breeding ground for a virus. With the risk of contamination at the workplace, there is an additional risk of contamination in the place of residence.
In the meantime, action has been taken in Germany. Dutch newspaper NRC writes: "The Dutch meat processor Vion is hiring 3,300 temporary workers from Germany. The German parliament recently put an end to this temporary employment structure for meat processors." This is good news for flex workers in Germany! Improved legal position, more certainty. Had Alex, the Romanian migrant worker we wrote about earlier, had a permanent contract, Vion could not have dumped him as scandalous as they have now.
Vion the Netherlands should do the same: hire all the people who are now employed through the employment agencies. This would put an end to the situation that workers would have to leave their accommodation immediately upon dismissal. This would put an end to the entire construction of linking the "right of residence" to the temporary employment contract in those unsanitary and unsafe housing in any case. Living space can then be rented from a decent wage, with at least a minimum of privacy and hygiene. A decent employment contract also includes travel allowance if the place of residence is not found close to the company. That would be an improvement from bus transport from residential block to location, on which temporary workers now depend - a bus transport that itself also poses a risk of contamination.
More labor rights, more security - and thus a stronger position of workers to make further demands, to improve their position together. At the same time, without the fear of immediate dismissal for every critical question, they can also more easily become critical about the work itself. Because that work itself consists of the killing of animals and turning them into a product. Which should come to an end anyway.