After experiencing the worst outbreak among foreign agricultural workers last summer, the largest producer of fresh vegetables in the country, Vegpro, in Montérégie, relives the nightmare of an outbreak.
“They had the biggest outbreak among foreign workers last June, so I find that unacceptable. There is someone somewhere, someone who did not do the necessary follow-up, ”lamented to the Newspaper Julio Lara, union representative of TUAC 501 assigned to the agricultural sector.
According to our information, there would be at least 70 workers in confinement and about thirty positive cases among foreign workers only (Guatemalans and Mexicans) out of a hundred at the plant, in Montérégie.
In addition, more than fifteen workers, some of whom often commute from Montreal-Sherrington in the morning to the site, have also been declared positive.
In recent days, nervous workers at the Vegpro plant have contacted The newspaper to tell their story, fear in the stomach.
“There is no control. People are crowded in the toilets, in the lockers, in the cafeteria, ”one of them confided, preferring to keep silent about his identity for fear of reprisals.
“The workers are stuck, often with little protection. The evening and weekend shifts, people eat together, no visor, no mask, no disinfectant most of the time, ”said another.
Among them, some even went so far as to say that the mask was often not mandatory inside the factory itself.
“It was to be expected. The big problem with Vegpro is that it’s cramped, ”observed Michel Pilon, coordinator of the Support Network for Migrant Agricultural Workers in Quebec (RATTMAQ).
“There are often two or four per room with bunk beds, so if anyone has COVID-19, the others are going to have it. “
On Wednesday afternoon, Vegpro confirmed the outbreak at its Montérégie facility, but refused to grant an interview to the Newspaper.
“For the past few days, we’ve been managing an outbreak at the Sherrington plant that affects temporary foreign workers and other full-time employees. With the close collaboration of Public Health, all our colleagues are taken care of and they are all relatively well ”, indicated the management of Vegpro International in a brief written communication.
The concerned UPA
On Wednesday, the director general of the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA), Charles-Félix Ross, expressed concern, even though he believes that producers comply with the health rules in force.
“With the current community transmission, the sector will have to redouble its vigilance in the weeks to come,” he nevertheless acknowledged.
At the office of the Minister of Agriculture, André Lamontagne, they said they were monitoring the situation closely.
On Wednesday, the Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISSS) of Montérégie-Center refused to say how many people are affected. The Committee on Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) was not able to answer the questions of the Newspaper.
- The head office : Sherrington, in Montérégie
- Foundation: 1998
- Employees: 1000
- Packing centers: Sherrington (Quebec), Belle Glade (Florida)
- Farms: Delfland, Les Fermes Hotte and Van Winden, Les Productions Horticoles Van Winden, Market gardeners JPL Guérin et fils, Vert Nature
- Known brand: Cool Attitude