Pfizer staff in Ringaskiddy reject WRC recommendations

Pfizer staff in Ringaskiddy reject WRC recommendations

Workers at the largest Pfizer plant in Ireland look to be on a collision course with company management after they rejected recommendations from the WRC (Workplace Relations Committee) on the proposed winding up of their Direct Benefit (DB) pension scheme.

Members of the Connect union at Pfizer's plant in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork voted to reject the plan, just days after their colleagues in SIPTU did the same.

However, unions in the smaller Pfizer plant in Little Island, Co Cork have already accepted the proposals.

But Pfizer has been left with a problem because the workforce in Ringaskiddy is far larger. There are 600 employees there compared to 200 in Little Island.

Pfizer management issued a statement which said that after five years of negotiations surrounding the DB pension they were "disappointed that SIPTU and Connect voted against the proposals in Ringaskiddy and the company is now assessing and reviewing next steps."

Worker sources in Ringaskiddy have told the Irish Examiner that if the company tries to play hardball it is likely they will take industrial action, up to and including strike action.

The WRC was called in to broker a deal earlier this year after unions at both plants rejected Labour Court recommendations on the company's plans to discontinue the DB pension scheme.

The Labour Court had recommended allowing those aged 55 and over to continue on the DB scheme.

As far back as 2014 Pfizer proposed the disbandment of the non-contributory DB scheme, saying it couldn't afford to continue running it.

It proposed that all workers be put on the contributory Direct Contribution (DC) pension scheme instead.

In trying to broker a resolution, the WRC made a number of recommendations. One included all employees having the option to remain in the DB plan for an additional 15 years.

The WRC also suggested that contributions to the DB plan be postponed until 2022 and incrementally increased up to 2027 for those who remained on it.

The unions also voted on the WRC suggestion that Pfizer pay a lump sum to all its current DB members of €20,000.

The WRC said €10,000 of this would be payable in early 2020, followed by installments of €2,500 in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

However, the WRC stipulated that these payments would be subject to people being in Pfizer service on each payment date.

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