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Bausch & Lomb: Workers are sacrificed for more profits

journal.ie

Bausch & Lomb says 200 jobs must go to save Waterford plant. “Contact lens maker is also seeking 20% pay cuts to bring subsidiary in line with other divisions. Management at the contact lens plant in Waterford warned staff it may be forced to close the entire operation with the loss of all 1,100 jobs if the substantial cost reductions are not implemented immediately.”

Let’s say it upfront: Workers of Bausch & Lomb don’t have to have a wage cut and jobs don’t have to go. There is nothing that justifies (if such an attack on workers can ever be justified) the announcement of 200 job losses, wage cuts and the further threats by the company to shut down if the imposed cuts are not accepted.

What we are talking here is about 1100 families, possibly 1100 mortgages, many children and 1100 more jobless people. We are talking about poverty and many lives being destroyed.

Workers are sacrificed in the interest of profits.

What is happening to Ireland? Has it become the wild west of workers exploitation under a government that keeps telling us how great the multinationals are and how much we owe them for giving us jobs?

Let’s read some of the statement from the company management and minister Bruton.

In a statement yesterday, the group said it was looking to bring the cost base of the Irish plant closer to that in Rochester, New York, where it says wage rates are more than 30 per cent lower.

Our review of our manufacturing facilities shows that Waterford’s cost base is substantially out of line with other plants within the Bausch & Lomb infrastructure,” vice president Angelo Conti said.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton last night acknowledged that workers at the plant, and their families, faced an “extremely difficult and uncertain situation. However, he noted the company had expressed a “clear preference” to keep the Waterford plant open. Mr Bruton said his department and the IDA had proposals at the ready to “substantial financial support” for investment in the plant by the company, in order to secure its future and position it for expansion, in the event that proposed restructuring is successful.

Nonsense after nonsense from multinational companies and our own government ministers!

Bausch & Lomb was taken over by the Multinational giant Valeant Pharmaceuticals in 2013. This is not the first time a global company takes over another one, talks about ‘synergies’ while governments sit quietly and watch these profit driven games of acquisitions and mergers go ahead. They even celebrate these events and make happy announcements of how jobs are created and how the international businesses are so keen to invest in Ireland.  And when the dust settles, we see the realities of what the business world calls “achieving synergies from mergers, acquisitions and cost saving measures”.

This fancy speak, plainly put, is about cutting wages, reducing workers’ terms and conditions and firing workers, all in the interest of more profits for shareholders.

Minister Bruton knew what was coming. The whole world knew about the job losses and wage cuts that were to follow the acquisition of Bausch & Lomb. In 2013 there were hundreds of reports of lay-offs.

And what did Minister Bruton do? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!

Furthermore, the whole Irish Establishment, including the IDA, is now telling the workers to own up to the responsibility of keeping the plant open by accepting the seemingly ‘unavoidable’ realities.  The IDA chief is already getting ready to blame the workers if they don’t comply with the wage cuts and threats by the company. In 2012, Barry O’Leary of IDA, who has a salary of €170,000, had told the Irish Independent that he would not be taking the voluntary pay cut.

Why do we pay these bureaucrats 6-digist wages? What is their purpose other than acting like the PR persons for the multinationals?

Why are the job and wage cuts in Bausch & Lomb purely for more profits?

A quick look at Valeant Pharmaceuticals 2013 Third Quarter Financial Results gives us the answer:

Total Revenue $1.54 billion; an increase of 74% over the prior year

10% organic growth for Bausch + Lomb since close versus prior year. Since the transaction closed on August 5, 2013, Bausch + Lomb has delivered a same store sales organic growth rate of 10% as compared to the prior year, driven primarily by the U.S. and Emerging Market operations.

Valeant's Emerging Markets revenue was $399 million, up 68% as compared to the third quarter of 2012.  This increase was also primarily led by the acquisition of Bausch + Lomb.

The share price of Valeant Pharmaceuticals went from $92 in May 2013 to $128 May 2014. This is an increase of 40%

J. Michael Pearson, chairman and chief executive officer celebrated the achievements and record of outperformance by saying:  "I thank our team, both at Valeant and our new colleagues from Bausch + Lomb, for their commitment, diligence, and focus on execution.  I am confident that our strategic focus on diversification, durable assets, key geographies, and low risk R&D will continue to benefit our shareholders as we look forward to continuing our track record of outperformance."  

Valeant Pharmaceuticals and its subsidiary Bausch & Lomb are not companies who are in difficulty. Their business and revenues are growing. The shareholders are getting increasingly more profits. The job losses and reduced wages are purely for the purpose of further increasing profits and bringing the T&Cs of workers to a new low level.  While shareholders enjoyed a 40% increase in their profits, workers in Waterford did not have the same luxury.

Trade unions must oppose any wage cuts and threats from multinationals.

Solidarity with the Bausch & Lomb workers

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