The Labour Court has recommended that Siptu members working at Abbott’s nutrition plant at Cootehill receive a pay increase over and above what the firm has been offering.
Established at 1975, the plant at Cootehill on the Cavan-Monaghan border is part of Abbott’s nutrition division making specialised infant formulae.
Approximately 1,000 dairy farms in Ireland and Northern Ireland supply milk to the Cootehill facility which processes 500,000 litres per day.
The US-based Abbott employs 3,000 staff across 11 sites in Ireland.
Siptu argued that the plant and the company are highly profitable and the increased responsibilities that have come about through the restructuring, together with a greater workload and improved efficiencies, should be acknowledged.
In response, Abbott told the Labour Court that the company operated in a deeply competitive market and that the terms and conditions at the Cootehill plant were extremely favourable.
In its recommendation, the Labour Court stated that “the union submitted claims for substantial increases in pay due to increased responsibility and workloads associated with the level of changes taking place in the organisational structure of the company”.
The claims were made on behalf of general operatives, process operatives, panel operatives, laboratory technicians and storemen.
The Labour Court noted that there had been lengthy discussions from February 2014.
The union rejected the firm’s final proposal on January 21 of this year that provided for a set a proposed increases in pay over a period of three years, commencing from and retrospective to 1 January, 2014.
In its ruling, the Labour Court stated that having given careful consideration to the case, the court endorses the company’s proposal to conclude a three-year agreement.
However, it is recommending that the company’s proposals, dated 21 January 2015, should be amended by the proposed increase of 2.25% from 1 January 2016 to 2.75%.
Also, the Labour Court has recommended that the once-off lump sum offered to the ‘panel operators’ should be increased to €2,500 and to ‘back-up panel operators’ to €1,250.
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