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JBS Cuts Ties with Cleaner Hiring Kids to Clean Bone Saws

More than 100 children were doing dangerous jobs across 13 U.S. meatpacking plants.

In February, Department of Labor investigators announced that they had found more than 100 children hired to do dangerous jobs across 13 U.S. meatpacking plants. The company, Kieler, Wisconsin-based, Packers Sanitation Services Inc (PSSI), was fined more than $1.5 million in civil penalties and meatpackers like JBS USA were caught up in the scandal. Some of the kids were as young as 13 years old and doing jobs like cleaning skull-splitters and bone saws with caustic chemicals during overnight shifts. A 13-year-old working at a JBS plant in Nebraska even suffered burns after an accident on the job.

On Monday, JBS USA finally ended contracts with PSSI, opting to bring the work in-house at some of its meat packing plants. JBS says it won't tolerate child labor and won't work with PSSI, specifically at locations where child labor violations were found. 

At other plants, the company will work with other third-party providers. The biggest impact for PSSI appears to be in Cactus, Texas, where the company is cutting 113 jobs after losing the contract for the local JBS plant. 

PSSI has already paid the $1.5 million, but the DOL investigation found more than 100 teens working in dangerous jobs for the cleaning service. 

Earlier this month, PSSI made a change at the top, hiring former Ecolab exec, Tim Mulhere, as the company's new CEO. At the time, Mulhere said, "Our focus as a team moving forward will be on continuing to invest in the highest standards possible for safety, compliance, and world-class service."

PSSI also launched a $10 million charitable fund to help reduce the rising problem of unauthorized underage workers. The fund will provide aid for legal aid, education, poverty reduction and health services, which are often contributing factors for families seeking unauthorized employment for minors.

In a statement, the company said, "PSSI is also committed to sharing the difficult lessons our company has learned and remedial measures we have put in place to help prevent the hiring of unauthorized minor workers."

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