Siptu workers plan overtime ban at Pfizer plant in Cork

Staff at Ringaskiddy in dispute over pensions for new employees

Up to 50 workers recruited for Pfizer’s Ringaskiddy plant in Cork since 2014 have found themselves impacted by the ongoing dispute over pension entitlements. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Up to 50 workers recruited for Pfizer’s Ringaskiddy plant in Cork since 2014 have found themselves impacted by the ongoing dispute over pension entitlements. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

 

Siptu workers at Pfizer’s Ringaskiddy plant in Cork will operate a work to rule from later this month in an ongoing row over pensions.

The move follows a ballot for industrial action that was overwhelmingly supported by the workers who comprise roughly half the 500-strong workforce at the plant.

The dispute centres on treatment of new recruits to the local workforce. Pfizer is looking to end any future accrual of benefits in a staff non-contributory defined-benefit (DB) scheme which promises a certain pension based on years of service and final salary at retirement.

Benefits

Staff will retain any benefits already earned but future benefits will be paid into a defined-contribution scheme under proposals first put forward in 2014 by the company.

Workers at the plant flatly reject any move to change their pension arrangements arguing that a multinational like Pfizer has more than enough money to respect long-standing terms and conditions of employment.

Up to 50 workers recruited at the plant since 2014 have found themselves unwittingly impacted by the ongoing dispute. Workers wanted them put on the existing DB pension arrangement; the company refused but said the new employees would join any new pension arrangement put in place at the end of negotiations.

However, no negotiations have taken place despite two Labour Court recommendations. The company says it is open to talks but workers say this is only on the basis of the discussions looking at the shape of a new scheme, which they say is unacceptable.

Ban

The industrial action now looming is technically over the unequal treatment of these newly employed colleagues, according to the union.

Siptu organiser Alan O’Leary, writing on the union’s Facebook site, said all workers in Ringaskiddy “should be treated in an equal manner in relation to their pension entitlements unless there is an agreement on any change”.

The overtime ban, which will kick in on January 27th, is unlikely to cause significant disruption in the short term but staff have also backed a further ballot sanctioning escalation to strike action, again by a wide margin.