June 2, 2020
JBS to reopen Brazil plant after COVID-19 outbreak
JBS SA confirmed the ruling of a Brazilian labour court issued on May 30 by Labour Judge Paula dos Anjos wherein the company's Santa Catarina chicken processing plant can resume its operations, reported Reuters.
The plant, which employs about 1,500 people and had been closed since May 18 following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, can process about 135,000 birds per day.
A company spokeswoman said resumption of activities at that plant, located in the small town of Ipumirim, would avoid the culling of thousands of chickens.
Press reports have pegged the number of chickens facing culling at 650,000.
A separate Brazilian court ruling on May 28 had made it mandatory for JBS to boost protection for workers as it reopened the plant, including mandatory distancing of 1.5 metres (4.92 feet), among other measures.
When the plant was ordered shut, 86 COVID-19 cases had been confirmed at the facility, labour auditors said.
Claiming "grave irregularities," auditors said they had found evidence that JBS had allegedly failed to suspend workers who had knowingly tested positive for COVID-19, according to documentation pertaining to the inspection.
JBS also allegedly failed to track those who had come into contact with the sick colleagues inside the plant, while keeping persons with flu-like symptoms on duty even after they had sought on-site medical attention, auditors said.
JBS has consistently denied any wrongdoing, saying it is abiding with government directives and applying strict health protocols to protect the workforce.