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Tyson raising pay to keep up as US chicken demand soars

Tyson Foods says it’s raising wages to combat absenteeism and worker turnover at its plants as U.S. demand for chicken soars.

The Springdale, Arkansas-based company, which processes 20% of U.S. beef, chicken and pork, said Monday that absentee rates are around 50% higher than they were before the pandemic.

Government stimulus payments and enhanced unemployment benefits have made it harder to keep some workers, the company said. Health concerns and child-care issues have also been a factor.

“It takes about six days right now to get five days worth of work done,” said Donnie King, Tyson’s chief operating officer, during a conference call Monday with investors.

To combat the virus, Tyson began vaccinating workers in February through clinics at more than 100 sites. The company said Monday it has vaccinated more than 42,000 employees, or about one-third of its workforce. Tyson said it’s also offering vaccines to team members’ families when possible.

Tyson said it’s raising wages and implementing more flexible scheduling in order to keep its plants staffed. Executives did not elaborate on the percentage pay hikes workers were being given and a company spokesman was unable to provide further details.

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