Brazil-based meat and poultry company BRF will furlough 5,600 employees from the chicken production lines in four of its units in the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil.

According to a Reuters report, the decision of the company is due to a nationwide truckers' strike in May, which paralyzed the poultry and meat sector for about 10 days and left a total impact of US$828 million (BRL3.15 billion) to the production and exporter sectors of chicken, swine, eggs and genetic material. The furlough will last from 10 to 30 days.

"The decision takes into account the need for adjustments to meet the current demand, aggravated by the recent truckers' strike," the company said in a statement compiled by Brazilian media AgroNégocio.

The report added that, in the case of the unit in Chapecó (SC), 1,400 employees will be in furlough for 30 days, beginning on July 30; while in the unit in Concordia (SC), 1,700 employees will be in furlough for 12 days, beginning on July 2. The first unit has an average production of 220,000 chickens slaughtered daily; and the second, of 280,000 birds per day.

At the Lajeado (RS) plant, 1,000 employees will be on furlough for 10 days; while in the unit of Serafina Correa (RS), 1,500 workers will be in furlough for the same period.

Although BRF blames the truckers' strike, which affected production in these units to a large extent, Jenir de Paula, president of labor union Sindicarnes —which gather workers of Chapecó — told AgroNégocio that, at least in Chapecó, the plant was already affected by the suspension of exports.

In April, the European Union banned imports from 20 poultry plants in Brazil, with BRF being the most affected company: 12 of the 20 plants belong to them.

This is not the first furlough carried out by BRF so far this year. In March, the company placed about 3,000 workers on a 30-day paid leave at its poultry processing facility in Capinzal, Santa Catarina. And in April, the company put another 3,600 workers on paid leave at two plants in Carambeí and Rio Verde. In these cases, the paid leave lasted a maximum of 30 days.

According to the company website, BRF has around 100,000 employees around the world.