An investigation launched by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) will send shockwaves through the meat industry, which is "indifferent to the treatment of its workers", union Unite has claimed.
The union's comments followed the EHRC's announced intention to examine the UK's multi-billion pound meat industry for evidence of employment abuse and discrimination. An estimated 40,000 workers are involved in the processing and packaging of meat in Britain.
The EHRC investigation could lead to a crack-down on the exploitation of migrant agency workers, claimed Unite.
"This root and branch inquiry will at last shine a light on this sector - from the lowly provider of labour right up to the mighty supermarket - and is certain to expose industrial practices that belong to the dark ages," said Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of Unite.