Strike ends at Pfizer plant after firm lets new staff join pension plan

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Industrial action at a Pfizer Ireland Ltd plant in Ringaskiddy, County Cork has ended after the firm agreed to let 35 new staff to join the company pension scheme.

SIPTU announced resolution of the dispute this week, explaining that union members have been engaged in industrial action since January 27 over Pfizer’s decision not to allow new employees to join its benefit pension scheme.

Sector Organiser, Alan O’Leary said: “The union is pleased with the resolution of the dispute at Pfizer.

Over 250 of our members were engaged in the industrial action which included an overtime ban because they felt very strongly that new employees should be treated equally and provided with the exact same terms and conditions of employment as all existing employees​.”

The Ringaskiddy plant manufactures the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) for such drugs as one-time bestseller Lipitor​ and erectile dysfunction drug Viagra​.

In an emailed statement Pfizer told us it "welcomes the decision by  SIPTU to end industrial action and now urges the unions to negotiate in relation to proposed pension changes​" adding "it is in the best interest of colleagues impacted that meaningful negotiations get underway​."

Pension plan 

Pfizer has proposed a defined contribution pension scheme to replace the non-contributory defined benefit pension scheme currently available to employees.

The firm told us the cost of funding non-contributory defined benefit schemes has risen "1000% since 2009 and these costs are affecting the competitiveness of the site​." 

Pfizer said: "This change is part of a global initiative as the environment for defined benefit plans has become very challenging due to the increasing and unsustainable cost and volatility associated with these types of pension plans."  

It added that: "A generous DC scheme is being proposed to which the company would also contribute and the company is willing to negotiate all aspects of this proposed scheme​."

Pfizer said the proposed changes affect 900 employees across three sites in Ireland, but added that it will continue to fund the existing schemes. 

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