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400 Pfizer employees set to strike over pensions

Published on 01/02/19 at 10:23am

400 Pfizer employees are set to go on strike in Ireland over an ongoing pensions dispute.

Members of SITPU, Ireland’s biggest trade union, voted to go on strike at Pfizer’s Ringaskiddy and Little Island plants in County Cork.

Employees working at the Ringaskiddy plant in will go on strike for 24 hours on the 15 February. The strike will be followed by a second 24 hour shutdown on 18 February.

Meanwhile workers at the Little Island facility will strike for a full day on 18 February.

SITPU has warned that further industrial action could take place in coming weeks.

The action has come after Pfizer sought to change the pensions scheme from 1 April without the agreement of staff.

While the current Defined Benefit pension scheme is non-contributory, meaning staff do not have to contribute to their pensions, the alteration would mean workers would fall under a Defined Contribution scheme from 1 April.

Pfizer have argued that the cost of funding the Defined Benefit scheme has risen tenfold since 2009.

SITPU organiser Ray Mitchell commented: “Our members cannot understand why Pfizer Ireland management has sought to change their existing pension benefits while at the same time allowing its employees in other EU countries to remain in a DB scheme.”

“In Belgium, for example, Pfizer senior management has allowed its employees the option to voluntarily stay in the DB pension scheme or to voluntarily migrate to a Defined Contribution scheme.”

The employees previously rejected a labour court’s recommendation.

Pfizer commented in a statement: “The Labour Court recommendation's proposals are very generous including lump sums of up to €35K, company contributions of up to 15% of pensionable pay, early transition incentives of up to an extra 14% of pensionable pay per annum on top of company contributions, or for those who do not transition early, 3 to 7 extra years of accrual in the defined benefit schemes based on a colleague's age at 30 June 2018 and the opportunity for colleagues over 50 on 30 June 2018 to stay in the defined benefit scheme until such time as they retire or leave the company.”  

Louis Goss

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