Labour walkout trims shift at Cargill beef plant in Nebraska

A Cargill beef processing plant in Cargill experienced an employee walkout. (Reuters pic)

CHICAGO: A walkout over a pay shift differential at a Cargill beef processing plant in Schuyler, Nebraska, partially disrupted production at the facility and diverted some cattle back to area feed lots, a company spokesman said on Tuesday. A number of first-shift employees at the facility refused to work in protest over recently implemented shift differentials provided to second- and third- shift employees, said company spokesman Michael Martin.

“We listened to these employees and are aware of their concerns. It is our hope to have this issue resolved quickly,” Martin added.

The plant is operating a second shift on Tuesday, and many of the employees involved in the labour action indicated they plan to return to work on Wednesday, said Martin. “There were some cattle that were turned around, but hopefully tomorrow we’ll be operating at a more normal volume,” Martin said.    The plant is capable of processing roughly 5,100 head of cattle per day, which represents about 4.5% of the total fed, or feed lot marketed, cattle slaughter capacity of 113,000 head, said Sterling Marketing Inc. President John Nalivka.

Cattle turned back by the Schuyler plant were likely animals ready for processing, which means some of them may return to feed lots where they will require additional feeding.

“It’s a business disruption for everybody involved and should be worked out soon. It should not affect overall cattle prices in the area because those cattle were already paid for,” Nalivka said.