Talks on future of Bausch + Lomb in Waterford

Tuesday 03 June 2014 23.25
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Bausch + Lomb is seeking 200 redundancies and a 20% pay cut for staff
Bausch + Lomb is seeking 200 redundancies and a 20% pay cut for staff
Union representatives from Bausch + Lomb are holding talks with management
Union representatives from Bausch + Lomb are holding talks with management

Talks between management and union representatives at the Bausch + Lomb plant in Waterford are due to resume tomorrow.

The contact lens manufacturer said last week it will close the plant unless it secures union agreement on a plan for a 20% pay cut for staff on top of 200 job cuts.

In a joint statement, management and unions said they are discussing ways to keep the plant open and secure its future.

They said: "We will look at a range of options to achieve that and both sides are committed to reaching agreement.

"During this process there will be no public comment from any of the participants in these talks."

However, the talks, which began today at Faithlegg House Hotel in Waterford, are said to be "progressing".

The SIPTU delegation consists of around a dozen officials and union representatives.

At least two senior US managers from Valeant, which owns Bausch + Lomb, are in also Waterford along with local management.

The CEO sent a memo to all staff this morning, saying the company is committed to staying in Waterford if it gets €20m in cost savings.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said every assistance is being given to the plant in order to achieve a constructive conclusion from the talks.

He said the IDA was involved in intense negotiations with the owners.

IDA Ireland Chief Executive Barry O'Leary this afternoon said the situation was extremely difficult.

However, he said there was a clear preference to keep the plant open and operating competitively.

He said the savings needed worldwide amounted to €800m, which means cutting 1,700 jobs.

Mr O'Leary said the losses at the Waterford plant would be very tough on the workforce and that negotiations were continuing to get the best possible outcome.

SIPTU Vice President Patricia King said the union will do everything in its power to maintain employment at the plant.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms King said that an increase in productivity was an outcome more favourable to workers than a 20% pay cut, which she described as "not tenable".

She said unions would seek a balanced approach in talks with management.

The company had adopted a "gun to the head" approach, she said, and she described the proposed 20% pay cut for workers as "savage".

It is understood that if the company was going to leave Waterford it could have done so without negotiation.

The fact that the company's vice-president Angelo Conti spent six hours meeting individual employees last week and is staying for all the talks implies it does want to continue production, but only if it gets 20% pay cuts.

It is understood that senior Government and trade union figures are on standby to help the talks progress, as is the Labour Relations Commission.