SIPTU members in Bausch and Lomb in Waterford have today (Monday, 16th June) 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.
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 10% of savings on unit labour costs shared equally among workers provides an opportunity to mitigate the losses.
"Since an announcement on Thursday, 29th May, that the future of the plant was in jeopardy unless there was major cost savings, SIPTU has been in intensive talks with the senior management from Valeant, the Bausch and Lomb parent company.
“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 on Thursday, 12th June, 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.”