LONDON, ONT. -- Cargill Inc. and Maple Leaf Foods announced a premium pay program for employees at their protein processing plants on Monday.

These programs follow discussion with the union and follow the trend of other employers to recognize and protect workers.

Tim. Deelstra, spokesperson for United Food and Commercial Workers 175 & 633 tells CTV News that a pay increase is essential during this COVID-19 crisis.

Cargill’s program provides for a premium of two dollars per hour worked, with a bonus of $500 paid to those who complete weekly shifts over a period of eight consecutive weeks. This payment will be effective starting immediately.

Maple Leaf Foods will pay an additional $80 per week to employees at their manufacturing facilities.

“It’s in line with the concept of the two dollars an hour that we started to see with grocery retailers,” says Deelstra, “This is a good recognition for the fact that these people are going to continue to keep us fed and secure during this ongoing crisis.”

Over the last week, Loblaw Companies, Metro Richelieu and Sobeys announced similar measures being put in place throughout their network of stores across Canada.

Ian Deakin, a customer at Sobeys, says that the premium pay is warranted.

“People are taking above and beyond risks, beyond what they would expect in the kind of work they do and in the workplaces they usually populate. To have a couple extra dollars in their pocket as an incentive for them to come into work and take that risk, I think, is a great gesture.