Drug company Pfizer has settled pensions row at Cork plant

Negotiation between union Siptu and Pfizer has ended an eight-week overtime ban

 Pfizer is still looking to close its current non-contributory defined benefit plan to 900 staff, including the 250 workers at the Cork facility. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Pfizer is still looking to close its current non-contributory defined benefit plan to 900 staff, including the 250 workers at the Cork facility. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

 

US drug giant Pfizer and trade union Siptu have settled a row over pensions that had seen workers at the company’s Ringaskiddy plant operate an overtime ban over the past eight weeks.

However, the company is still looking to close its current non-contributory defined benefit plan to 900 staff, including the 250 workers at the Cork facility.

Following talks at the Labour Court, the company agreed to allow 35 new entrants to join the company’s defined benefit pension scheme.

Pfizer said it wants to close the scheme entirely to future accrual and replace it with a defined contribution alternative. Staff will retain benefits already built up under the existing arrangement.

It had argued that new entrants should join this new scheme with their benefits back-dated.

Equality

However, Siptu insisted that all staff should be treated equally and allowed to join the final salary, or defined benefit, scheme currently in place. The 250 workers at the Cork plant took industrial action to press their case.

“The union is pleased with the resolution of the dispute ,” Siptu sector organiser Alan O’Leary said, adding that staff had “felt very strongly that new employees should be treated equally and provided with the exact same terms and conditions of employment as all existing employees”.

The company says it still intends to close the existing scheme. “The cost to the company of funding these non-contributory DB schemes has risen 1,000 per cent since 2009 and these costs are affecting the competitiveness of the site,” a spokeswoman for Pfizer said.

It has called on Siptu to negotiate a proposal it says it has put on the table.

Mr O’Leary, said union representatives “will be meet with the Siptu workplace committee shortly to consider the overall situation relating to the defined benefit pension scheme”.