Monday 24 November 2014

'Fixer' steps in to help broker jobs deal at Bausch and Lomb

Published 06/06/2014 | 02:30

SIPTU vice president Patricia King joined the talks yesterday
SIPTU vice president Patricia King joined the talks yesterday

AN industrial relations 'fixer' has stepped in to try to broker a deal to secure the future of one of the largest private sector employers in the south-east.

An invitation was issued to the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) as talks among unions and management at contact lens maker Bausch and Lomb were described as "constructive" in Waterford.

Both LRC director of conciliation, Kevin Foley, and his deputy, Anna Perry, have accepted the invite to co-chair the talks aiming to broker an agreement to keep the plant open.

Talks began after Bausch and Lomb announced it wants 200 redundancies and a wage reduction of 20pc to avoid closure of the plant, which employs over 1,100 staff. The firm is seeking €20m in cost savings.

The CEO of the parent company Valeant, Michael Pearson, assured Waterford employees that Bausch and Lomb is committed to maintaining its presence in the city, provided they can get the cutbacks they want.

SIPTU has already described a 20pc pay cut for staff as not tenable.

SIPTU's vice president Patricia King joined the talks yesterday, which also include a US executive, Angelo Conti, the vice president of manufacturing at Bausch and Lomb.

At a meeting of Bausch and Lomb workers there was strong criticism over how the job cuts and potential slashing of pay had been announced in a short meeting to staff, and there were calls for the cost savings to be analysed in depth.

The union has sought costings on alternative cost saving options to the 20pc pay cut proposed by management.

Among one of the options believed to be considered was increasing the working week above 39 hours. Bausch and Lomb has said it will decide whether to shut the plant by June 17.

It is expected they will table detailed alternatives in the coming days. However, pressure is mounting as Bausch and Lomb has said it will decide whether to shut the plant by June 17.

A call by the US Democratic senator Charles Schumer to move the jobs to a Rochester in New York where the company has a separate operation were heavily criticised – with the Irish ambassador to the US also raising the matter with the politician.

Irish Independent

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