Australia’s largest cat litter manufacturers are being criticised by animal welfare advocates for paying their workers far less than other cat litter producers, despite them producing some of the most highly-rated litter products in the world.
Cat litter has become a hot topic in Australia after it was revealed purina, the world’s largest litter maker, pays some of its workers less than the industry average.
“Purina cat owners are not happy with their work conditions, and they’re not happy that their work has been made possible by their employers,” said Rachel Pemberton, who runs the advocacy group Animal Justice Australia.
“It’s a very different relationship between the cat owners and their employers than the animal welfare movement would like to see.”
Pemberton said the problem was not limited to purina.
Cat litter is being used in other industries, including retail and healthcare, and many are paying their employees less than industry-standard rates.
Purina said it had always been clear that it had a responsibility to make sure its cat litter was used in a manner that minimised any risks to animals, but it now said it needed to find a better balance between ensuring workers were compensated and minimising the risk to them.
“We have been saying for a long time that cat litter is a safe product and that it can be used in the right way, and we have been very clear that our cat litter should not be used for euthanasia,” Purina’s chief executive Peter MacCallum said in a statement.
“But we also recognise that we need to do more to minimise the risks to the cat, which we have found are high.”
Pew Research said it would be a “disappointing” situation for Purina to find itself paying its workers more than the minimum wage in Australia, given the industry is growing rapidly and there are more cat owners than ever.
“In many cases, the pay rates are lower than the international industry average,” the report said.
“For Purina, this is due to the high turnover rate among its cat owners.
The majority of the company’s cats come from countries that have high cat ownership rates.
Purina cat owner wages average $14.50 an hour, compared to $16.60 an hour for all workers.”
But Purina is not the only company to find themselves in a position where workers are paid less than their industry’s minimum wage.
In April, the Australian Retailers Association said it was “disappointed” that some of Purina workers had been paid more than $15 an hour.
“It’s concerning that the pay for Purins cat litter workers is $15 below the industry’s standard and that Purina has not paid any of its own employees,” the retail association said in its annual report.
“While Purina acknowledges it has an obligation to its workers to minimised the risk of harm, we are concerned that Purins pay rate is less than that of the industry standard.”
Purina’s CEO told the ABC that Purinos pay rate was “about one-third” of the average for cat litter makers, although Purina did not provide a specific industry comparison.
“This is not unusual for cat owners, and it’s certainly not unique to Purina,” Purino said.
“I’m sure it’s the case with many cat owners.”
The ABC contacted Purina for comment but the company was not available for comment.