Two Spanish companies in Morocco make their workers an easy target for Covid-19

London - Two Spanish-owned factories that produce frozen fruit in Morocco have become hotspots for the novel coronavirus, posing a threat to workers and their families, warns ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies.

The London-based think tank says it considers the two companies, Frigodar and Navarra Natperi, responsible for taking the necessary precautions to protect workers. The companies’ negligence requires greater government's oversight, says ImpACT.

Two days ago, Moroccan authorities registered more than 500 coronavirus infections in Kenitra Province, distributed between the two Spanish companies.

"Laboratory officials believe the virus was transmitted during the transportation of workers, because the first positive case was diagnosed on June 12 when a bus driver conveyed workers to another area," the executive manager of Frigodar stated. The company employs 1,313 workers, most of whom are women.

Laboratory officials believe the virus was transmitted during the transportation of workers, because the first positive case was diagnosed on June 12 when a bus driver conveyed workers to another area 

- The executive manager of Frigodar

Given the severity of the situation, the Moroccan Ministry of Interior closed access to the roads leading to the villages and towns in the fruit-growing region where the companies operate. Exceptions are made only in cases of extreme necessity.

The Moroccan authorities have ordered massive COVID-19 testing at the two factories, as well as at five other fruit companies, resulting in more diagnoses among workers and their families in the highly populated area.  

Workers moving between facilities lack masks and other personal protective equipment, ImpACT International points out, adding that employees usually commute to the crowded factories in open trailers or trucks without maintaining the minimum social distance. Thus, ImpACT blames the outbreak on a disregard for preventive measures and the local authorities' failure to impose health and safety requirements.

The regional office of the Kenitra Union Federation, which is part of the Moroccan Workers' Union (UMT), has called on authorities to require preventive health conditions in all production units and public service facilities.

ImpACT adds that management of the two Spanish factories should comply with recommended procedures to protect their workers and limit their risk of infection. This includes providing workers with gloves, masks and hand sanitizer, and ensuring they have access to instructions for using them properly.

Meanwhie, says ImpACT International, Moroccan authorities should intensify monitoring of factories, including those owned by foreign companies, and fulfill their obligations under international covenants and agreements. The latter includes the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which stipulates in Article 7 that everyone has the right to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work to ensure safe and healthy working conditions.

 

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