1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Coronavirus: Fourth outbreak at German slaughterhouse

May 18, 2020

Dozens of people have been infected with the coronavirus at a slaughterhouse in the state of Lower Saxony. The German government has postponed talks on long-standing complaints about the country's meat industry.

Processing of pork in a slaughterhouse
Image: Imago Images/Westend61

Another large coronavirus outbreak was reported at a German slaughterhouse on Monday. In the last two weeks, meat-processing plants have been the site of three other major outbreaks.

At least 92 workers at a slaughterhouse in Dissen in Lower Saxony have tested positive, the city of Osnabrück announced late on Sunday. Those infected and members of their households have been placed in quarantine and production has been stopped.

The German government's "Coronavirus Cabinet" was set to discuss changes to workplace safety regulations, with a particular eye on slaughterhouses. Concerns have been raised about the working and living conditions of slaughterhouse workers, where many of the employees are eastern European temporary workers brought in to feed Germany's appetite for cheap meat.

However, Monday's proposed meeting was postponed until Wednesday.

Read more: Opinion: Coronavirus highlights scandalous conditions in Germany's meat industry

COVID-19 outbreak in German abattoir

Squalid conditions for foreign workers

Despite the fact that poor working practices and squalid living quarters of these workers, mostly from Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria, have been known for years, until these outbreaks no lawmakers have moved to changed these conditions.

In the past two weeks, meat-processing plants in the states of Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia have also had to close after hundreds of workers tested positive for the coronavirus. Healthy workers have complained they are being forced to quarantine in their derelict living spaces without direction from their superiors about when they will be allowed to leave or if they are being paid during this time.

The Food, Beverages and Catering Union has called on the government to take this opportunity to impose "fundamental reform" in the industry and give new "crystal clear" regulations for slaughterhouses.

es/rt (AFP, dpa)

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. Sign up to receive it directly here.