and Complaint Reading out the Great Depression Wednesday, a federal filing called for a temporary injunction against a large sanitation company accused of hiring 13-year-olds on ‘dangerous’ night shifts at food processing plants. did.
Packers Sanitation Services, known as PSSI, Ministry of Labor After credible information emerged that at least 31 children were employed cleaning industrial equipment, the complaint said.
At least two of the child workers suffered chemical burns and other injuries while working on the “kill floor” where cattle were slaughtered at a plant operated by JBS Foods in Grand Island, Nebraska, according to the complaint. suffered.
PSSI employs local workers across the country to disinfect industrial plants such as food processing facilities. It is often done in night shifts that involve “handling or working around dangerous machinery” or using “strong chemicals.” YoutubeThe company has 17,000 employees, according to its website.
The Department of Labor said it found child workers at its Grand Island location and two factories in Minnesota. One in Worthington is operated by JBS Foods and the other by Turkey Valley Farms in Marshall.
None of the children mentioned in the complaint were identified, but filings stated they far exceeded the hours of work permitted under federal law for minors. All were Spanish speakers.
The Fair Standards and Labor Act of 1938 established a complete ban on the employment of minors under the age of 14. Her teens, ages 14 through her 15, cannot work after 9:00 pm during the summer and after 7:00 pm during the school year.
Labor laws are looser for workers over the age of 16, but still prohibit working more than 3 hours a day and 18 hours a week. The law also prohibits children from operating or working around “dangerous” equipment.
According to the federal government, these laws were blatantly ignored by the PSSI and one child worker, a 14-year-old student at Walnut Middle School on the Grand Island, worked five to six afternoons a week from December to April. I worked from 11am to 5am.
Investigators said the child’s work ID matched that of a student ID. According to the complaint, the student regularly fell asleep during class and was absent from school because of chemical injuries sustained at the factory.
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A child’s suspicion of injury is not a one-time event.a Report from March Since 2018, it said three PSSI workers had died on the job. Among them was one of his chickens, who was decapitated while cleaning his chiller. Four other injuries led to amputations, according to a report commissioned by the watchdog group Private Equity Stakeholder Project.
Many of the children detailed in the Department of Labor complaint were used for cutting meat, including tools such as “electric knives” and “grasselli skinners” used to peel fat from animal carcasses. I was entrusted with the cleaning of the machine that will be done.
Investigators from the department’s Wages and Hours Division interviewed “several minors” during tours of each factory. They observed that “nearly every area” of the plant contained “meat and bone cutting saws” or other dangerous power-driven machinery, not intended to be cleaned by children, the complaint states. Says.
Federal officials claimed to have found an abhorrent condition during the tour, with cow fat appearing to cover the entire ground at the Grand Island slaughterhouse.
They also accused the PSSI of trying to retaliate against workers who spoke with investigators, throwing and manipulating employee files to cover up improper employment records, and obstructing investigations.
When investigators interviewed the workers directly, the complaint said the PSSI supervisor was nearby, tried to listen to the conversation, and did not move until ordered.
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However, in a statement to The Daily Beast on Wednesday, the company rejected the Labor Department’s allegations, suggesting the children may have lied about their ages.
“While unauthorized individuals may attempt to engage in fraud or identity theft, we are confident in our strict compliance policies and will vigorously defend against these allegations. ‘ said the statement.
PSSI said it uses “industry-leading, best-in-class procedures,” including the U.S. government’s E-Verify system, document verification, and biometrics, to verify identities at the time of hiring.
The company also disputed federal claims that they obstructed the investigation and said it was “surprised” by the filing. It claimed to have cleared multiple audits.
“PSSI will continue to work with the DOL to continue to enforce the absolute ban on employment of persons under the age of 18,” the statement said.
JBS Foods, which has contracted with PSSI to hire cleaners at the two facilities named in the complaint, did not respond to a request for comment. “We have no comment at this time,” Lesgoff, general manager of the Turkey Valley Farms plant, told The Daily.
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