File photo: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
File photo: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Cut production at Cape bread maker with 27 positive Covid-19 cases, urges union

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published May 11, 2020

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Cape Town – The Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) has demanded that bread manufacturer Blue Ribbon, which has 27 positive Covid-19 cases, be temporarily shut down until it’s declared safe.

Fawu provincial secretary Meshack Ntechane said the manufacturer’s parent company Premier must decontaminate the factory in Salt River, and only reopen when they receive the results of employees who have been tested.

“We believe that the company’s current action to refuse to close temporarily is compromising the health of employees in favour of profits. Our members are angry and deeply troubled to go to work since it came to light that some workers at the plant have tested positive for the virus.

“An employee who experienced Covid-19 symptoms alerted the company’s management who simply handed him a referral letter to go to Lentegeur clinic, where he then consequently received a positive result.

“Fawu has communicated our members’ concerns to management , but the company still refuses to shut down the plant. The union has also alerted the Department of Health about the company’s intransigent stance,” said Ntechane.

He said the union rejected the company’s testing of employees on a departmental basis, and condemned Blue Ribbon for “putting the lives of their members in danger”.

Premier group strategy and marketing executive Siobhan O’Sullivan said that of the company’s 1200 employees on the site in Salt River, 27 tested positive, and were all isolated before gaining access at the facility.

“To date, 340 employees have been placed in isolation because of potentially being in contact with an individual who has tested positive since the start of lockdown on March 27.

“Where an employee has potentially been in contact with another infected employee or a retail outlet with confirmed positive cases, the employee is placed in self-isolation for seven days, and tested for Covid-19 on the 8th day.

“NICD (National Institute for Communicable Diseases) protocols are adhered to in every instance. None of the employees who have tested positive have severe symptoms Most have been asymptomatic. 

"Premier production sites are deep-cleaned and sprayed with a static spray every seven days - the residual life of this spray is up to 14 days,” said O’Sullivan.

She said all employees and sales crew were required to wear masks, and when arriving on site, undergo stringent testing.

“Drivers and van assistants who deliver bread to the trade go through the same protocols, and are required to take the necessary hygiene and safety precautions when delivering bread to the stores and depots.”

Cape Times

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