Employees reject 4.5% pay rise plan

Workers at the Athlone unit of US healthcare giant Covidien have rejected a Labour Court recommendation giving employees a 4.5% pay increase over three years.

Siptu is seeking a €1 per hour increase for its 440 members at the plant where the majority of the trade union’s members currently earn €11.67 per hour working as general operatives.

Siptu’s organiser in the medical devices sector, Frank Jones, yesterday said that “the ball is firmly back in the company’s court” after the decision by workers to reject the Labour Court recommendation.

The Labour Court had recommended a 1.5% pay rise backdated to April 2013 and a further combined 3% increase in the two years after the first 12 months.

The Labour Court also recommended the ending of anniversary gifts and service dinners for workers who reach milestones such as 25 years with the firm. Mr Jones said: “The members were not too exercised about those issues.”

He said Covidien is “hugely profitable”, adding that there will be “a cooling off” period following the rejection ballot.

The Labour Court also recommended that workers who have been with the firm for 15 or more years receive 22 days of leave.

Mr Jones said long-serving Siptu members want 25 days’ leave. “That number of days’ leave is normal across the industry and even within the Covidien group.”

He said the company is agreeable to the pay increase in the Labour Court recommendation, but that “it is a little shy of what we are seeking”.

Mr Jones said the current pay agreement with Covidien expired in April last year. “Since then, there hasn’t been an hour missed by our members. The firm is busier than ever.”

Mr Jones said there will be a time for serious reflection and decisions to be made if the company doesn’t respond positively to the union.

In its argument before the Labour Court, Siptu said it was noteworthy that there has been industrial peace on the site. Covidien stated that it made a reasonable offer to the workers.


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