- A former Kellogg worker reportedly faces up to three years in prison after urinating on a cereal production line.
- The man filmed himself urinating on a conveyor belt in 2014 and posted the video online in 2016. He pleaded guilty to the charge of tampering with consumer products, WREG-TV reports.
- Workers urinating while working on production lines is a major problem in factories, in part because many employees say they are denied bathroom breaks and report being mocked, ignored, and threatened with firing if they request to use the restroom.
A former Kellogg factory worker reportedly faces up to three years in prison after urinating on a conveyor belt. But, the issue of employees relieving themselves on the line has a darker and more complex history than many realise.
In late November, Gregory Stanton pleaded guilty to the charge of tampering with consumer products, WREG-TV reported. In 2014, Stanton had filmed himself urinating on a Kellogg cereal conveyor belt at a facility in Memphis, Tennessee.
Two years later, in 2016, Stanton posted the video of himself urinating on the cereal line, which was uploaded to WorldStarHipHop.com. Kellogg only learned of the incident after the video was uploaded.
“It has been more than two years since this incident came to our attention, and we are pleased that the responsible individual was brought to justice,” a Kellogg representative said in an email on Thursday.
It is unclear what prompted Stanton to urinate on the line and to later share the video, the Associated Press reported. However, the incident needs to be understood in the context of why urinating on production lines has become a major issue at factories.
A 2015 Oxfam report found that poultry-factory employees are routinely denied bathroom breaks, and workers have reported being mocked, ignored, and threatened with firing if they request to use the restroom.
According to Oxfam’s report, urinating on the line is far from an isolated incident. The anti-poverty organisation collected stories of people reporting feeling humiliated after urinating on the production line at sites, including Tyson plants in three states, Pilgrim’s plants in Texas and Alabama, and a Case Farms plant in North Carolina.
“Workers struggle to cope with this denial of a basic human need,” the Oxfam report states. “They urinate and defecate while standing on the line; they wear diapers to work; they restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees; they endure pain and discomfort while they worry about their health and job security.”
According to the Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) report for 2017, workers in all five states surveyed said their requests to use the bathroom were often delayed or denied.
People working at meat and poultry factories in three of five states told OSHA that they suffered negative health effects, such as kidney problems or urinary tract infections, due to delayed or denied bathroom breaks. Workers in two states said they feared punishment if they used the bathroom too frequently or complained about a lack of bathroom access.
Poultry- and meat-production giants have denied the reports. Pilgrim’s said in a statement to Business Insider in October that denying breaks would be “clear violations of company policy and would result in disciplinary action.” Tyson said in a statement it is working with Oxfam America to improve the workplace and that the company does “not tolerate the refusal of requests to use the restroom.”
The issue of workers’ bathroom breaks extends far beyond the meat and poultry industries. Workers in Amazon warehouses and others who deliver packages for the e-commerce giant reportedly have been forced to urinate in bottles as they struggle to meet strict targets. Some Tesla factory workers have also said they have been forced to choose between eating and using the bathroom.
There is no evidence that Stanton urinated on the cereal conveyor belt because he was banned from using the bathroom.
However, it is important to understand how seemingly isolated incidents can interact with larger labour issues. For example, at the time of the 2014 incident, Kellogg and workers at the Memphis plant were in a dispute, during which Kellogg reportedly locked out union workers, cutting off healthcare benefits, for more than nine months.
If you’re a factory worker with a story to share, contact [email protected]
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