Irish Embassy contacts US senator over Waterford jobs bid

Democratic senator Charles Schumer called for jobs to be moved to New York

The Irish Ambassador to the US confirmed in a letter to Fine Gael TD John Deasy (above) that, following his request, the Embassy in Washington got in contact with the New York office of  senator Charles Schumer. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The Irish Ambassador to the US confirmed in a letter to Fine Gael TD John Deasy (above) that, following his request, the Embassy in Washington got in contact with the New York office of senator Charles Schumer. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Thu, Jun 5, 2014, 01:00

The Irish Embassy in Washington DC has contacted a US senator to raise concerns over his call for more than 1,100 at-risk jobs at a pharmaceutical giant in Waterford to be moved to New York.

The Irish Ambassador to the US confirmed in a letter to Fine Gael TD John Deasy yesterday that, following his request, the Embassy in Washington got in contact with the New York office of Democratic senator Charles Schumer.

This followed Mr Schumer’s call for jobs at Bausch + Lomb in Waterford – currently the subject of negotiations between management and unions – to be relocated to Rochester, New York, where the co- mpany also has an operation.

Ongoing negotiations

“The Embassy has been in touch with Senator Schumer’s office to draw attention to the sensitivity of this issue, the ongoing negotiations between management, the employees and their unions, and the concern that these jobs be safeguarded in Ireland,” Irish Ambassador Anne Anderson told Mr Deasy.

Mr Schumer said at the weekend that he had “called the CEO of [parent company] Valeant and urged him to move that work and those jobs to Rochester”. He also said that, after his phone call with Valeant chief executive J Michael Pearson, he was “confident that Rochester will have a great shot at adding work and jobs from the potential closure of the Ireland plant”.

Committed to Waterford

However, Mr Pearson assured Waterford employees in a memo on Tuesday that Bau- sch + Lomb was committed to maintaining its presence in the city, provided the company got the cutbacks it wanted.

In a letter to Ms Anderson, Mr Deasy said he found Mr Schumer’s actions “unbelievably distasteful” and registered his “disgust”.

Mr Deasy, who worked as a congressional aide in the US Senate before entering Irish politics, said that, as a former employee of the Senate, “I never thought that a US senator would act in such an underhand manner”.

There was no response from Mr Schumer’s office to a query on the issue.

Management at Bausch + Lomb announced last week that they want to cut 200 of the 1,100-plus jobs in Waterford and implement 20 per cent pay cuts.

Negotiations between management and unions got under way on Tuesday. It is understood today’s negotiations will feature the unions’ response to management’s position.