The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Ferocious Exploitation in U.S. Slaughterhouses

Jun 6, 2016

More than 250,000 workers in the U.S. chicken industry have been refused bathroom breaks, according to a recent report by Oxfam, the non-profit organization that focuses on poverty around the world.

The industry is known for its low salaries, numerous accidents and workplace harassment. The speed of the line in slaughterhouses is outrageous: almost 140 chickens are torn apart every minute, with many companies bragging they have raised the level to 175 birds a minute.

The bosses put a constant pressure on workers not to take any breaks, using all sorts of mockery and threats of discipline. If workers do get a break, they have to run to the bathroom, risking accidents on the slippery floors in the slaughterhouses. Many workers took to wearing disposable diapers to take care of toilet needs while working.

This bullying can also have severe health consequences, especially for pregnant women or for workers who avoid drinking water so they won’t need a bathroom break.

Poor countries have no claim on extreme exploitation: it happens in the richest countries too, including in the U.S., this supposedly modern, civilized country.