Cork Pfizer workers to strike over pension issue

Cork Pfizer workers to strike over pension issue

SIPTU members working in the Pfizer pharmaceutical plants in Ringaskiddy and Little Island have served notice of industrial action in a dispute over their pensions.

The workers will carry out a 24-hour work stoppage in the Ringaskiddy plant on February 15 followed by a 24-hour work stoppage in both plants on February 18. 

Pfizer said they were disappointed with the vote saying strike action is "disproportionate".

SIPTU said there will also be an indefinite overtime ban from February 16 onwards in both plants along with threats of further work stoppages.

SIPTU Organiser, Ray Mitchell, said their members have continually sought to reach agreement with the company on the pension issue but now feel they are left with no other option but to take industrial action.

“Our members cannot understand why Pfizer Ireland management has sought to change their existing pension benefits while at the same time allowing its employees in other EU countries to remain in a DB scheme," he said.

"In Belgium, for example, Pfizer senior management has allowed its employees the option to voluntarily stay in the DB pension scheme or to voluntarily migrate to a Defined Contribution scheme."

“The company is also aware that the current joint Union/Management collective agreement remains in place until a new one is negotiated and agreed with union members. Until then, there can be no alteration or amendment to the existing DB pension scheme.

“Our members in both plants overwhelmingly balloted to reject a Labour Court recommendation on the matter last week and to take industrial action," he said.

However, in a statement, Pfizer said they had accepted a Labour Court recommendation which includes enhanced terms and transitional arrangements.

"Pfizer’s defined benefit pension schemes provide benefit values at the upper end of the pension benefit range and the defined contribution scheme recommended by the Labour Court also provides pension benefits at the upper end of the scale.

"The company has allowed significant time over five years to work with colleagues on the changes to the defined benefit pension schemes." 

Pfizer said the Labour Court recommendation's proposals are very generous including lump sums of up to €35K and company contributions of up to 15% of pensionable pay.

"The company would also commit to funding what is accrued already in the defined benefit schemes and would continue to do so at considerable cost, so colleagues benefit from what is held in their DB pension."

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