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Agreement on Smithfield pork plant

The strike at a Smithfield pork plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina, US, has come to an end.

After a two-day walk out by hundreds of workers, Smithfield agreed to workers' demands to halt wholesale firings of employees and agreed to reconsider their implementation of immigration policies in the plant.

The company, for the first time, also agreed to meet with a group of workers elected by the workers themselves to further negotiate about plant issues and employee concerns.

Protests

The employees had been walking off the job in an attempt to protest the company's firing of about 50 employees, all Latino, who were suspected of being illegal immigrants.

However, Smithfield officials claimed the company was forced to fire the workers because of stepped-up scrutiny by US authorities, responsible for work site enforcement.

Respect

The walk-out caused thousands of calls to the company from national religious, civil rights and immigrant rights organisations demanding that the workers' rights be respected.

Following the strike, the company agreed to negotiate around the workers' issues through the Catholic Church. The company acknowledged that they had misinterpreted the law and agreed to make adjustments to comply.

Related news items:

• US Smithfield employees on strike (20 Nov 2006)

Related website:

• Smithfield

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