Embassy contacts US senator vying for Irish jobs

Ireland’s embassy in Washington has contacted a US senator to raise concerns over his call for over 1,100 at-risk jobs at a pharmaceutical giant in Waterford to be moved to New York.

The Irish ambassador to the United States confirmed in a letter to Fine Gael TD John Deasy yesterday that, following his request, the embassy in Washington got in contact with the New York office of Democratic senator Charles Schumer.

This followed Senator Schumer’s call for jobs at Bausch + Lomb in Waterford (currently the subject of negotiations between management and unions) to be re-located to Rochester in New York where the company has a separate operation.

“The embassy has been in touch with Senator Schumer’s office to draw attention to the sensitivity of this issue, the ongoing negotiations between management, the employees and their unions and the concern that these jobs be safeguarded in Ireland,” Ambassador Anne Anderson told Mr Deasy.

Senator Schumer said that after his phone call with CEO Michael Pearson, he is “confident that Rochester will have a great shot at adding work and jobs from the potential closure of the Ireland plant”.

However, Mr Pearson assured Waterford employees in a memo on Tuesday that Bausch + Lomb is committed to maintaining its presence in the city, provided they get the cutbacks they want.

In a letter to Ambassador Anderson, John Deasy said he found Senator Schumer’s actions “unbelievably distasteful” and registered his “disgust”.

Mr Deasy worked as a congressional aide in the US Senate before entering Irish politics and said, “I never thought that a US senator would act in such an underhand manner.”

There was no comment from Senator Schumer’s office.

Management at Bausch + Lomb announced last week they want to cut 200 of the 1,100-plus jobs in Waterford and implement 20% pay cuts for the remaining employees.

Negotiations regarding the future of the company in Waterford got under way on Tuesday.

It’s understood today’s negotiations will feature the unions’ response to management’s position which was outlined over the last two days.

Neither side is making any official comment while the talks are under way, since issuing a joint statement on Tuesday night underlining they are “committed to reaching agreement”.


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