LETTER: Looking after the welfare of chickens and their pluckers

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Indy Lifestyle Online
From Mr A. J. P. Dalton

Sir: Your editorial waxes lyrical about the fate of the 700 million chickens slaughtered each year to satiate British appetites.

But there are thousands of poultry workers, often female (mainly chicken and turkey pluckers) - many of whom are members of this union - who frequently suffer from painful Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI).

In 1979, the first "chicken plucker", Ms Presland, was awarded some compensation (pounds 1,250) from the courts for her RSI caused by the job. She was one of 18 cases in as many months.

One of the most famous cases occurred in 1993 when six of our T&G poultry workers won a total of pounds 21,000 from Bernard Matthews's turkey farm in East Anglia. But only one of the six could still work. And, at the time, we had another 72 cases pending. We urgently need some effective preventive action.

In the words of one of the women, 47-year-old Joy Mouteney, "It is a revolting job. On the cutting line, two-thirds of the workers had wrist problems. We are talking of blood and guts. You have got to wear wellingtons, rubber gloves and apron. It is cold, wet and noisy and it stinks like hell."

There must be better ways to provide both work and food. Animals and humans unite. You have only your suffering to lose!

Yours sincerely,

A. J. P. Dalton

National Health and

Safety Co-Ordinator

Transport and General

Workers' Union

London, SW1