GERMANY, Rheda-Wiedenbrück. The public prosecutor's office in Bielefeld is targeting the management. Clemens Tönnies rejects the accusations.
After the corona outbreak at the Rheda meat plant, the public prosecutor's office in Bielefeld has received dozens of complaints. The investigations have now been extended to the management of the meat company and Clemens Tönnies is going on the offensive. In an interview with the Westfalenblatt, he resolutely rejects a large part of the accusations made against him and his company. He wants to restore his reputation "by clarifying the facts point by point". The company has always adhered to the law, he said. "If we are accused of legal violations, we will deal with them objectively", Tönnies shows himself combative.
He points out that the company was intensively controlled. The spread of the corona virus via the circulating air cooling system was a previously unknown, new phenomenon that had nothing to do with the subject of work contracts and the housing situation. Worldwide, there were 172 similar companies that were or were not operating due to corona outbreaks, so this was not a Tönnies case. Nevertheless, Tönnies renewed its promise to terminate the employment of contract workers by the end of the year. For the meat industry, he demands a significant increase in the minimum wage, which must become generally binding.
Tönnies cannot understand criticism of the applications of the group and subcontractors for reimbursement of wage costs for the time during quarantine and plant closure. If the aid is not granted, he indicates legal resistance. "In case of doubt, legal action will be taken," he says in the interview.
At the moment, he considers the further ramp-up of production to be a priority. "Our farmers are suffering from the collapse of the pig price, which we now have to bring back up to an adequate level", the group boss states. He was critical of the demands made by politicians for liability for corona damage by third parties: "No one has yet said anything substantial about our alleged guilt.” He reminded the audience that there had been outbreaks in other companies and asked how to proceed there.