Socialist Worker

Cold, damp and barbaric - conditions for meat workers

Issue No. 2341

Conditions for meat processing workers are barbaric. Most are paid the minimum wage to work long hours in the cold and damp.

The skilled workers are the boners. They get paid £9.60 an hour.

But they generally finish their working life in the meat industry by their mid thirties.

Boners work with a gauntlet and a long knife. They wear chainmail to protect their crotch.

The going rate for a boner who cuts themselves is £250 per stitch.

Firms pay them the money to stop them making a health and safety complaint.

Meat inspection by the government’s Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) has been steadily deregulated over the past two decades.

To put it simply there are no vets from the MHS in large abattoirs on the night shift and none at any time in small abattoirs.

The government has slashed trading standards officers, who would be responsible for detecting mislabelled meat.

There were 26 percent fewer inspections in 2011-12 than in 2009‑10.

There was also a 29 percent drop in prosecutions.

These agencies are far too close to the powerful industry. The former head of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Tim Smith, is now Tesco’s technical director.

The FSA says that up to 6 percent of horses

slaughtered contain horse tranquilliser that can harm humans.

But substituting horse meat for beef lets firms grab more than £258,000 extra in profits for every 25 tonnes.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.