Meatpacker JBS ends contracts with US company fined for hiring kids

PSSI paid $1.5 million for employing more than 100 teenagers
calendar icon 25 April 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

JBS USA is ending contracts with a US company fined for hiring kids to clean meat plants, the unit of Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA said on Monday, adding it is bringing the work in-house at some facilities, reported Reuters.

The changes show how a US government investigation into food-safety sanitation company Packers Sanitation Services Inc (PSSI) is prompting adjustments by major meat companies.

JBS said it does not tolerate child labour and is shifting away from PSSI at every location where alleged child labour violations occurred, spokeswoman Nikki Richardson said.

The meatpacker is employing different third-party providers at some plants and hiring its own workers at others, including at a beef facility in Cactus, Texas, that was not the site of alleged labour violations, Richardson added.

PSSI will eliminate 113 positions in Cactus, Texas, on May 30, according to Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) data. PSSI confirmed that the WARN notice was for the JBS plant in Cactus. The company previously said it had a zero tolerance policy for employing minors.

The US Department of Labor in February said PSSI paid $1.5 million in penalties for employing more than 100 teenagers in dangerous jobs at meatpacking plants in eight states.

Two of the largest penalties stemmed from PSSI's contracts at JBS plants in Nebraska and Minnesota. PSSI was also fined for hiring children to work at a third JBS facility in Colorado, along with facilities owned by other meat companies.

The Labor Department did not accuse the meatpackers of wrongdoing, though the Biden administration has urged meat companies to examine their supply chains for evidence of child labour.

Reuters has reported that the illegal use of child workers - particularly migrants - has been widespread, including at chicken plants in Alabama and by contractors who employed workers at Hyundai and Kia assembly plants. The automakers have said they do not condone labor law violations.

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