Revealed: exploitation of meat plant workers rife across UK and Europe

The Guardian

By Ella McSweeney and Holly Young
Processing sausages at a German plant. About 1 million people work in Europe’s meat sector and many are precariously employed through subcontractors and agencies. Photograph: Agencja Fotograficzna Caro/Alamy

Meat companies across Europe have been hiring thousands of workers through subcontractors, agencies and bogus co-operatives on inferior pay and conditions, a Guardian investigation has found.

Workers, officials and labour experts have described how Europe’s £190bn meat industry has become a global hotspot for outsourced labour, with a floating cohort of workers, many of whom are migrants, with some earning 40% to 50% less than directly employed staff in the same factories.

The Guardian has uncovered evidence of a two-tier employment system with workers subjected to sub-standard pay and conditions to fulfil the meat industry’s need for a replenishable source of low-paid, hyper-flexible workers.


About 1 million people work in Europe’s meat sector, with unions estimating that thousands of workers in some countries are precariously employed through subcontractors and agencies.

Publish : 2021-09-28 13:45:00

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