Bausch + Lomb workers ballot on improved pay deal

Siptu and management hammer out 9.5% pay rise as industrial action loomed

Workers at Bausch + Lomb's Waterford plant will vote over the coming days on an improved pay offer following talks at the Workplace Relations Commission.

Ahead of the ballot, the union Siptu is briefing members at the 1,250-employee plant, which makes contract lenses and eyecare solutions.

The deal will see staff paid a cumulative 9.5 per cent increase over the next three years, as well as a once-off payment of €500.

An initial 3.75 per cent pay rise will kick in from January 1st, with another 3.25 per cent in 2018 and 2.5 per cent in 2019.


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.

Previously recommended measures to raise pay levels in a “new starter” category introduced in 2014 also feature. These will see the grade raised to 75 per cent of the full rate, rising to 85 per cent in the second six months of employment and 95 per cent in the following six months.

Invited to talks

The dispute had become increasingly intransigent, but a deal was hammered out between Siptu and management after both sides were invited to talks by the commission on Wednesday.

The Workplace Relations Commission had previously recommended a 7.5 per cent increase in pay over three years in a proposal that was rejected by workers. A subsequent two-year package recommended by the Labour Court and offering an approximate 5 per cent increase was also rejected. The pay rises in both of those recommendations were due to kick in last August.

Siptu had pushed for full restoration of pay and conditions applying before mid-2014, when the company secured cuts in pay and benefits, along with 200 redundancies to stave off a threat to the plant.

The union had voted for industrial action and had planned to begin workplace disruption next week in the run-up to Christmas.

That drew a hardline response from management, which demanded agreement on pay by a deadline it imposed for Wednesday. Without that, it threatened to cutbacks that would cost more than 200 jobs initially. The threat of possible closure – and the loss of all 1,250 jobs – loomed over the plant if any industrial action continued into the new year.

Neither side was commenting on Wednesday.

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle is Deputy Business Editor of The Irish Times