Bausch + Lomb staff back improved pay deal

Ballot on 9.5% three-year deal wins 80% support from workers at contact lens plant

Bausch & Lomb

Bausch & Lomb

 

Staff at Bausch + Lomb’s Waterford plant have voted to accept a new pay deal, averting the threat of strike action and job cuts.

The vote, which was supported by over 80 per cent in a ballot of Siptu staff, lifted a threat to the future viability of the plant, where 1,250 people are employed.

Workers will receive the first 3.75 per cent rise in pay as part of the three-year deal in January under the deal hammered out under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission. They will also get a once off payment of €500 in recognition of the time lapsed since the ending of the previous accord last August.

Further increases of 3.25 per cent in January 2018 and 2.5 per cent in 2019 will see salaries increase by 9.5 per cent over the lifetime of the agreement.

Staff will also get an extra three days holiday per year. Coverage by the company sick pay scheme will be extended to five weeks from the current three.

The company welcomed the outcome and said it now looked forward to “sustained stability in the future which can hopefully support growth and investment in the business in Waterford”.

Siptu said the described the vote as “very emphatic”.

Siptu workers had rejected two previous pay proposals negotiated through the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court, and had threatened industrial action from today. They were seeking “full restoration” of pay and conditions that were in place before a crisis in 2014 saw pay and benefits cut and 200 jobs lost.

In response, management had warned that it would cut up to 200 jobs at the plant. And in a move that was seen as threatening the future of the plant as a whole, it said it would examine capacity at other Bausch + Lomb plants ahead of “further measures” that would be implemented if any industrial action was sustained into the new year.

“From our perspective, when you add up the 2014 cuts on jobs and pay, over the period our membership lost nothing,” he said. Employment at the Waterford plant is now higher than at that time,” said Gerry McCormack, manufacturing division organiser for Siptu.