A US-based food sanitation company reportedly employed 102 minors to engage in chemical saw cleaning tasks.
at least a child between the ages of 13 and 17 is engaged in hazardous work under the company Packers Sanitation Services.
According to a US Department of Labor investigation, at least three children were injured while cleaning sharp butchering equipment including back saws, brisket saws and decapitating knives.
Based on these findings, the company based in Kieler, Wisconsin is required to pay a penalty of US $ 1.5 million as a civil penalty. In addition, these minors also get work time at night. The practice is said to have occurred at 13 meat processing facilities spread across eight states.
As a result, the company was also fined the maximum civil penalty authorized by federal law and required to pay US$15.1 thousand for each underage employee employed.
Responding to these findings, the Sanitation Packers have also issued a statement and will be committed to the rules that have been enforced by the Department of Manpower.
“We have been very clear from the start: Our company has a zero tolerance policy towards anyone who employs children under the age of 18,” a Packers Sanitation spokesperson said in a statement Friday (17/2) US time.
“We fully support the Department of Labor and will ensure comprehensive compliance across all of our locations.” Currently, the company says it has no underage workers still on the premises, despite “many” of them having worked there years ago.
“As soon as we responded to the Department of Labor’s findings, we immediately conducted several additional audits of our employee base, and hired a third-party law firm to review and help further strengthen our policies in this area,” the statement read.
The investigation by the Ministry of Manpower has started since August 2022. The investigation into the underage workers was first conducted at JBS USA in Nebraska and Minnesota.
Until finally in November 2022, a complaint was filed with the US District Court of Nebraska which stated that Packers Sanitation illegally employed 31 children to clean dangerous electrical equipment.
In December, the Packers agreed to take “significant steps” and comply with employment law after agreeing to an order and assessment.
They eventually paid $741,000 in fines at two JBS Foods in Grand Island, Nebraska, and Worthington, Minnesota, for employing 49 minors.
Separately, the Packers were also fined for employing 26 minors at Cargill Inc. processors. in Dodge City, Kansas, and at plants in Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Tennessee, and Texas.
“These children should never have been employed in a meatpacking factory and this can only happen when the employer does not take responsibility for preventing child labor violations from occurring,” said Jessica Looman, deputy administrator for the Division of Wages and Labor at the Department of Labor. US.