A fire which gutted a pig abattoir in Adelaide, Australia, causing an estimated $15m worth of damage has left the future of more than 300 employees hanging in the balance.
Reports on the ABC Online news service state that firefighters were called to the Primo Meats plant at Port Wakefield, 99 kilometres north-west of Adelaide, after a fire was reported in the offal room.
According to reports operations are expected to cease for six months while the plant is rebuilt.
Reports state the meat workers union has said that the fire has placed the industry under increased pressure and the union's secretary Graeme Smith said there were very few employment opportunities for the 360 workers left without jobs.
Smith added in the report that closures of abattoirs in recent years combined with the drought meant the labour market was extremely tight.
"The meat industry itself is very, very thin at the moment because the drought is just about to take effect and what happens when you get a drought in the meat industry is that the farmers madly kill their stock before they run out of feed and then when they run out of stock the industry crashes - that's what we're about to face," he said in a report.
Pig supplier, Greg Ludvigsen, said in a ABC report that tough times lay ahead, especially when there was plenty of demand for pork.
Reports state that Primo Meats chief executive officer, Paul Lederer, said that his company would do all it could to support the work force.
The SA Opposition, said on ABC Online that it would put pressure on both state and federal governments to provide an adequate assistance package for the displaced workers.