ALL 900 workers at a coronavirus-hit chicken factory have been ordered to isolate or they will lose their pay.
The number of positive Covid-19 cases linked to the 2 Sisters food processing plant in Coupar Angus, Perthshire, Scotland has reached 152 – with 134 employees and 18 of their contacts affected.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
Management issued the ultimatum as the number of positive coronavirus cases linked to the factory rose.
The company has been in talks with union officials and the Scottish Government about how to pay staff while the factory remains shut.
Employees were told on Monday night that they will get paid in full – but only if they stay in quarantine.
Messages sent from site director Brian Glennie said: “The leadership team has decided that all colleagues will receive 100 per cent pay for the period they are required to self-isolate.”
He said he was pleased the Scottish Government had agreed to support the firm and “recognised the acute pressures closure has brought.”
However, Mr Glennie also told colleagues: “Please note that receiving full pay is conditional.”
Staff won’t get full pay if they “don’t comply with government guidance on self-isolation during the self-isolation period”.
They could also get their pay cut if they don’t return to work when the site reopens.
“These measures are designed to prevent further spread of the infection in the local community, so I ask for your full co-operation,” Mr Glennie said.
There had been concern that the stay-at-home message was not getting through to everyone at the factory, where a total of 17 languages are spoken.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned officials will “have to look at more restrictions” if the cluster spreads further.
Dr Emma Fletcher, Associate Director of Public Health for NHS Tayside, said: “Hundreds of workers have attended for testing, and given the volume of testing which has now been completed, we expect positive cases to continue to rise in the coming days as tests are processed and we receive the results.”
As a result of the shutdown at the plant, 110,000 chickens will be slaughtered, it’s reported.
The birds are being gassed in a grim operation at a huge shed complex after the production was halted at the factory.
Trucks loaded with carcasses are being driven away from a cull site in Broxburn, West Lothian, for disposal.
The company insists the birds are being put to sleep humanely after operations stopped in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
A source said: “The plan is to empty the huge sheds that house around 110,000 birds before restocking them with new chicks at a later date.
“They’ve got two gassing chambers sitting outside the sheds.
“They then bring the bodies out and cart them away on lorries. The company has closed down two killing plants recently.
“But they have now got nowhere to kill so many birds so they’re gassing them on site. It’s a horrible business.”
The factory processes almost one million chickens a week.
A spokesman for the company said: “Regrettably, we do not have the capacity to process all birds and in order to comply with welfare regulations, some birds will need to be slaughtered.
“All chickens have been humanely dispatched.”
Meanwhile, cops are probing reports of hate crimes against Eastern European plant workers and their families.
NHS Tayside, Perth and Kinross Council and Police Scotland issued a statement after it emerged that staff have been subjected to vile abuse following the outbreak.
Council leader Murray Lyle said: “We have seen a number of comments made online singling out certain groups or nationalities. This is unkind and counter-productive.
“Council staff have been out visiting and phoning people who work at the factory, offering public health advice in a number of languages, food deliveries and other support they may need.”