US Smithfield employees on strike
Several hundreds of workers picketed the world's largest pork plant in Tar
Heel, North Carolina, US on Friday.
They walked off the job to protest the company's firing of about 50
employees, all Latino, who were suspected of being illegal immigrants.
Officials at Smithfield said they were forced to fire the workers because of
stepped-up scrutiny by US authorities, responsible for work site
However, union organisers said the sacking is part of a company campaign to
intimidate workers agitating for better conditions. And Latino workers rallying
outside the industrial complex complained that they had long suffered abusive
treatment at the plant.
The clash highlights the widespread reliance of some US industries on illegal
About 48% of the plant's 5,000 workers are said to be Latino and about 375
employees, were claimed to be taking part in the walkout. Union observers said
the figure was much higher.
In a statement issued by Smithfield, the company said the walkout was
apparently orchestrated by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and that
it was 'totally unjustified'.
According to Smithfield the plant is now working at 70% of its capacity. On a
daily basis about 32,000 pigs are processed at the plant.
â€¢ Smithfield Foods
â€¢ United Food and
Commercial Workers Union
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