Tönnies implements Immediate Action Plan
+++ The site at Rheda-Wiedenbrück is being reopened following significant technical innovations and additional hygiene measures
+++ The 25 immediate actions implemented by Tönnies include restructuring the living and working areas for the current contract workers as well as the animal husbandry area.
Rheda-Wiedenbrück, 20 July 2020 – The Tönnies Group has gradually reopened the production areas at Rheda-Wiedenbrück. Following a series of tests, the municipal administration of Rheda-Wiedenbrück lifted the production ban for slaughtering and butchering last Friday. Since then, production has restarted; initially approx. 8,000 pigs were slaughtered each day.
The basis for the reopening is an expanded hygiene plan. This was further defined with experts from the district administration, the occupational health and safety authority for the region of NRW along with other scientific experts, and was reviewed during visits and tests at the plant.
The hygiene plan used as the basis for reopening the site focusses on new ventilation installations, decentralised HEPA filtration devices, which have been installed in the butchering areas. They exchange the air 2.5 times per hour and reduce the potential viruses in the air circulating within the room. The filter installations were put into operation over the last few weeks and checked in tests carried out with the authorities.
Immediately after the outbreak, Prof. Dr. Martin Exner from the Institute for Hygiene and Public Health at the University of Bonn pointed out that the air circulating within the butchering area is the main reason for the virus being able to spread into some areas and cause a mass outbreak. The findings are new, this was previously not regulated and has now been scientifically investigated for the first time. They explain for the first time why large-scale infections occur in abattoirs around the world.
The expanded hygiene plan also includes weekly mass testing for all production employees in mobile tents at the plant entrance, address management of all employees for company tracking of employees, a strict separation of employees from different production departments during canteen visits, an increased number of training sessions for employees and also increased checks of compliance with distance rules and wearing of medical face masks to be carried out by the Corona Officers who will carry out patrols.
Tönnies will implement these and other measures at the sites at high financial and personnel cost and with the cooperation of employees from production and administration.
Living and working
By 01 September 2020, Tönnies will directly employ 1,000 contract employees in Rheda-Wiedenbrück. By the end of 2020, the goal is that all employees in core areas will be employed directly by the company. Tönnies will create new accommodation for these employees – initially at Rheda-Wiedenbrück, then at other sites if required. By 01 September 2020, Tönnies will rent approx. 400 residence units in Rheda-Wiedenbrück for future employees. Two housing management companies have been established and are currently working on this task under high pressure. The time recording system previously available will be transferred to a digital time management system from 01 August 2020 with the aim of reviewing and documenting working times in a more efficient way.
“We are developing our company for the future. The Immediate Action Plan is the start. It determines how we hire the contract employees as direct employees, build new accommodation for them, improve the existing accommodation and ensure that we protect our employees during the pandemic so that we can continue to produce high-quality meat and sausage products”, says Clemens Tönnies.
For many years, the Tönnies Group has been a pioneer in issues of animal welfare, the farming label and transparency for the consumer with regard to farming conditions. With the Immediate Action Plan, the Tönnies Group continues to follow this path: it acknowledges the result of the Borchert Commission of the Federal Ministry for Agriculture and supports the animal welfare levy. Tönnies also pursues the goal of switching to farming method 2 (“indoors plus”) for most pork production in the future, and is expanding the offer for farming method 3 (“Outdoor”) to 3,000 pigs/week and supporting the construction of open-front stalls.
The measures included in the Immediate Action Plan are initially being implemented at Rheda-Wiedenbrück. Following this, selected measures required during the pandemic will be introduced at the other German sites. In doing so, the structuring of the measures to suit other sites is dependent on the valid rules and regulations, the circumstances and space at the sites, as well as the infection rate in the regions of the other sites and the associated regulations from the authorities during the pandemic.