IDA tells Bausch & Lomb staff to weigh options carefully

Multinational has threatened to close Waterford plant if cost-saving measures are not accepted

 Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton,  speaking to media on Kildare Street following the announcement by Bausch and Lomb yesterday.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, speaking to media on Kildare Street following the announcement by Bausch and Lomb yesterday.

Fri, May 30, 2014, 17:51

IDA Ireland chief executive Barry O’Leary has called on workers at the Bausch & Lomb plant in Waterford to weigh up their options carefully before deciding on the management’s cost-cutting proposals.

The company’s new owners are threatening to close the operation with the loss of all 1,100 jobs unless they get union agreement on plans for 200 redundancies and a 20 per cent pay cut for remaining staff.

The contact lens maker claims staff at its headquarters in Rochester, New York are paid nearly a third less than their Irish counterparts.

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and IDA Ireland have been in negotiations with the contact lens maker since it was acquired last year in an $8.7 billion deal by Canadian group Valeant.

Mr O’Leary said the agency had been working with the company to ready a financial support package in the event that the proposed restructuring is successful.

“The stark reality of this is that if the cost savings are not achieved, the operation will not be there,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme.

“I think that’s the stark reality that people have to make the judgement call (on), however bitter it is to swallow.”

“But if one can, in some way, look to the more medium to long-term future, it has a huge impact, the company, in the southeast and it would be a tragedy to lose it.”

The company said discussions with staff and union representatives on the cost-cutting proposals will begin next Tuesday and that it hoped to reach a resolution by June 17th.

Speaking at an Isme function in Dublin today, SME chairman Eamonn Kielty said the Govenment still needed to ensure the country regain competitiveness lost duting “the bubble years”.

“The lesson from Bausch & Lomb cannot be ignored and the reality of global trade must be driven home to Irish trade unions who demand pay increases, strike at the drop of a hat and require instant gratification no matter what the cost.”

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovaiton Richard Bruton last night acknowledged that workers at the plant, and their families, faced an “extremely difficult and uncertain situation”.

However, he noted the company had expressed a “clear preference” to keep the Waterford plant open.