Thursday 25 December 2014

SIPTU members in Bausch and Lomb accept management proposals

Vote in favour for cost-saving proposals that management state will secure the long-term future of the plant

Published 16/06/2014 | 18:45

02/06/2014. News. Bausch & Lomb job losses. Pictured after a meeting at The Tower Hotel, Waterford city where SIPTU and employees of Bausch & Lomb met Waterford policitians for support. Pictured are Alan Dillon SIPTU, John Curran, Gemma Mackey and Pauline King employees of Bausch & Lomb. Picture: Picture: Patrick Browne
Pictured after a meeting at The Tower Hotel, Waterford city at the beginning of this month where SIPTU and employees of Bausch & Lomb met Waterford policitians for support. Pictured here are Alan Dillon SIPTU, John Curran, Gemma Mackey and Pauline King employees of Bausch & Lomb. Picture: Picture: Patrick Browne
Workers leaving the Waterford factory of Bausch and Lomb yesterday, last month. Photo: Mary Browne

SIPTU members in Bausch and Lomb in Waterford have today voted by 563 in favour to 157 against to accept cost saving proposals which management has stated will secure the long-term future of the plant.

The agreement includes a wage reduction of 7.5% in basic pay; elimination of some bonuses; one hour added work per week; a reduction in in the Sick Pay scheme and an improved redundancy package for the 200 workers who will lose their jobs.

Employees of the contact lens maker voted following the breakdown of negotiations between unions and management chaired by the Labour Relations Commission.

Staff have reacted with anger and dismay to the cost-cutting proposals which first emerged over a fortnight ago when management said they needed €20m in payroll costs or else the plant would have to close.

Following 10 days of talks chaired by the Labour Relations Commission, a "modified" proposal from management asked for cuts in core pay of 7.5pc – but when bonus payments and shift allowance cuts are taken into account, salaries will be slashed by over 14pc.

Tomorrow was set as the deadline for a decision from the workers.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Alan O’Leary, said: “These proposals were very difficult for our members to accept."

"However, enhanced compensation means that these cuts won't be felt for some time."

"Also, a new gain sharing commitment from the company equivalent to 10pc of savings on unit labour costs shared equally among workers provides an opportunity to mitigate the losses."

SIPTU has been in intensive talks with the senior management from Valeant, the Bausch and Lomb parent company since last month.

“The talks moved to Dublin to facilitate discussions under the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) co-chairs Kevin Foley and Anna Perry. SIPTU Vice President, Patricia King, also joined the negotiations. However, it was not possible to reach an agreement. The company’s final position was outlined in a proposal by the LRC recommending that both sides give it serious consideration.”

At a general meeting of SIPTU members last Thursday it was decided to hold a ballot on the proposals.

Alan O’Leary, added: “Our members had genuine concerns that Valeant was adopting a race to the bottom approach driving wages into the floor without providing any future security.

"However, we received a letter of commitment from the Valeant CEO J. Michael Pearson confirming that the company would not seek any more cuts.

"He also provided a personal commitment to immediately invest in the Waterford plant if our members accepted the terms of the LRC proposal.

“Following the major sacrifice of our members today in accepting these cuts in order to secure the future of the Waterford site we now publicly call on Mr Pearson to honour his commitment to immediately sign off on investment for Waterford.

"The ball is now firmly in the Valeant court and we will be writing today to Mr Pearson to seek confirmation of this vitally important investment.”

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