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Talks to resume at Bausch and Lomb as Siptu suspends industrial action

Staff held two-hour work stoppages at the plant last weekend.

Image: James Horan Rolling News

TALKS ARE TO resume between Bausch and Lomb management and Siptu in a bid to resolve a pay dispute at the company’s pharmaceutical plant in Waterford.

Siptu said it was suspending its industrial action to facilitate negotiations at the Workplace Relations Commission this Friday.

The trade union’s members have been downing their tools and holding work stoppages in recent days as part of industrial action at the contact lens maker.  

“At the request of the WRC and in order to allow talks to have the best chance of finding a resolution to this dispute, our members have decided to suspend their campaign of industrial action which was scheduled to resume on Saturday (18th June),” said its sector organiser Neil McGowan in a statement. 

The union’s manufacturing organiser Greg Ennis said it was regrettable that Siptu members at the plant felt they were left with no alternative other than to engage in industrial action in pursuit of their pay claim.

He added: “Our members in Bausch and Lomb have shown great resolve during this dispute. This has only been possible due to the unflinching support they have received from their families and the wider community in county Waterford.”

It is believed upcoming work stoppages will be deferred while talks take place.

A spokesman for Bausch and Lomb said in a statement released this evening: “At the invitation of the Workplace Relations Commission, both the company and SIPTU have agreed to reconvene at conciliation on Friday the 17th in a final effort to resolve the outstanding issue in dispute.”

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The dispute stretches back to 2014, when workers accepted pay cuts in an attempt to secure the long-term viability of the company, taking on 7.5% reduction in basic pay and the elimination of some bonuses. One hour of work was added per week but for no pay, staff have said.

The plant employs over 1,600 people, of which over 1,000 are Siptu members.

Siptu members voted overwhelmingly for strike action in April and began industrial action last Saturday after talks failed at the WRC.

Its representatives have warned that workers are facing a “cost-of-living crisis” due to inflation and that a pay increase can no longer be avoided.

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