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JBS is being sued by Brazil’s labour prosecutors over COVID-19 outbreak

Brazilian labour prosecutors are suing JBS SA for damages and demanding better working conditions after a coronavirus outbreak in a processing plant sickens workers.

27 May 2020, at 8:32am

Reuters reports that labour prosecutors published a statement on 27 May, outlining the COVID-19 outbreak at a meat plant in Ipumirim, Santa Catarina.

This is the second time in just over a month that labour prosecutors have sought legal redress against the meatpacker. The case cites it company’s alleged inability to stem outbreaks of COVID-19 at slaughterhouses and meat packing sites.

In a statement sent to Reuters, JBS said that it had not received formal notice of the lawsuit and added, without elaborating, that it adhered to “strict protocols” against the virus.

In Rio Grande do Sul state, labour prosecutors on 18 April also filed suit after a high number of COVID-19 cases were detected at the company's Passo Fundo unit. Operations at Passo Fundo, which employs more than 2,600 people and like Ipumirim slaughters chickens, resumed on 21 May after being closed for about a month.

The prosecutors in Santa Catarina alleged JBS is not doing enough to protect its employees at Ipumirim, which was closed after a labour inspection on 18 May.

"The company is considered a contagion hot spot for coronavirus not only in Ipumirim, but also in neighboring municipalities, as it employs workers from all over the region," a statement by labour prosecutors said.

On the day prosecutors closed Ipumirim, some 86 employees had tested positive for COVID-19, or about 5 percent of the approximately 1,500 employees at the site, the prosecutors' statement said.

The cases registered at the plant represented then approximately 14 percent of the contaminations in the west of Santa Catarina, and almost 2 percent of all cases in the state, the prosecutors said.

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