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German state probes legal liability of meat factory after coronavirus

Christian Fernsby ▼ | June 27, 2020
The legal liability for the recent coronavirus outbreak at a slaughterhouse of German meat processing company Toennies is being evaluated, an official said Friday.
Toennies group
Liability   Toennies group
"It is currently being evaluated very carefully whether and against which rules the company has violated and where it can be held liable," Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state Armin Laschet told the German media RND, stressing that he would consider Toennies "as responsible."

Topics: German coronavirus

In the wake of the outbreak that has left more than 1,500 Toennies employees infected with COVID-19, Laschet criticized the company's lack of cooperation with the local authorities. "There was no cooperation anymore, there were orders," Laschet said earlier this week.

A series of recent COVID-19 outbreaks at a number of German slaughterhouses have prompted criticisms of the working conditions in the meat industry and of the use of cramped communal housing for subcontractors.

In May, the German government adopted an employee protection plan for the entire meat industry. As of next year, the hiring of subcontractors as well as labor leasing models would be prohibited for German companies whose main business is slaughtering and meat processing.

On Tuesday, Toennies said it would cancel all its subcontract arrangements effective January 2021 but to employee workers and would "quickly create sufficient and appropriate living space" for its employees.

Following the COVID-19 outbreak at the Toennies plant, severe restrictions have been reimposed in the affected districts which will remain in force until June 30 in order to protect the population.

By Friday, the district of Guetersloh that was most affected by the outbreak at the slaughterhouse had recorded around 178 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last seven days, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).