The Smithfield Foods plant in Portsmouth has been planning to close. Employees are being laid off, however, they do not know when to expect pink slips. Smithfield Foods is building a new state of the art plant in Kingston, North Carolina. This new plant has an estimated cost of $80 million dollars. This plant makes hot dogs and lunch meat. This was announced in November of 2011.
Smithfield Foods keeps changing the date of the lay off, employees do not know for sure when they will be laid off. In November of 2011, Smithfield Foods announced they would be cutting more than 400 jobs from the Portsmouth plant. Employees at the Portsmouth plant were told that the plant, which was built in the 70's can not support the manufacturing technology changes and product development that is necessary to meet the company's needs.
They offered workers a chance to be transferred to the plant in Smithfield or to go to North Carolina, however, others will just be out of a job. If workers did not sign up for the transfer they are just out of a job. Some of the employees have been at this plant for 10-30 years, they are not getting severance pay, all they will get is pension. Their benefits will end the day people leave the plant.
The company stated that they plan to comply with the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, that they are giving employees a 90 day notification of the plant closure. They also stated that they will notify state dislocated worker units so that they can assist employees that have been laid off. Smithfield Foods is the world's largest pork producer, they have plants in 26 states and employ more than 46,000 workers.
The closing of the Smithfield plant in Portsmouth will have a significant impact on the economy here. Mayor Kenny Wright has been being briefed by company officials on the developments.