BRF workers in Brazil's Mato Grosso threaten strike over pay
RIO DE JANEIRO Dec 14 (Reuters) - Workers at one of BRF SA's largest Brazilian meatpacking plants voted to go on strike within 15 days if the company, the world's biggest poultry exporter, fails to meet wage-increase and other demands.
The 4,500 workers at the plant, in Lucas do Rio Verde, in Brazil's central western Mato Grosso state, have asked for a 13 percent salary increase, the national food-workers union confederation, or CNTA, said in a statement on Monday.
Plant workers are also seeking improvements in safety and health conditions and increases in day care, overtime and meal benefits, CNTA said. BRF has offered a 5 percent pay increase.
The Sao Paulo-based company is responsible for about 14 percent of the world poultry market. Press officials at BRF did not respond to emails and calls requesting comment.
Safety at Brazilian meatpacking plants has become a major concern after a March leak of ammonia gas, used in refrigeration, caused dozens of workers to become ill at a slaughterhouse in Brazil's Paraná state.
"The workers are unsatisfied with talks up to now," said Valdeci Scherer, president of the local union in Lucas do Rio Verde. "We consider slaughterhouse work draining and are asking for what the law guarantees and what is just for the worker."
The demands come as BRF, best known for its Sadia and Perdigão brands of chicken, pork and sliced meats, faces recession in its home market but increasing competitiveness abroad. Brazil's currency, the real, has weakened 32 percent against the dollar in the past 12 months, the world's worst performing major currency in the period.
BRF's 877 million real ($226 million) profit in the third quarter was the company's third largest in the last five years.
($1 = 3.88 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Jeb Blount)
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