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WATERFORD Bausch & Lomb: Questions against myths and propaganda

breakingnews.ie

As the international mergers, acquisitions and takeovers happen; multinational corporations compare (purposefully so) apples and oranges and come-up with propaganda to win the political and public battle against workers and trade unions. The jargon they use sounds scientific. It seems as if the numbers and figures they are presenting are undeniable facts and as if these are objective and independently verified figures.

Trade union officials need to take note of these. Surely this is not the first time they had to deal with such things.

Take the example the company Bausch & Lomb which was taken over by the multinational giant Valeant Pharmaceuticals in 2013. The big propaganda going around at the moment, as part of the attempt by the Valeant to reduce workers’ wages and sack some of them, is the workers' wages in Ireland: IRISH WORKERS EARN 30% HIGHER WAGES THAN THE WORKERS IN NY. SIPTU needs to burry this myth ASAP.  This is another example of conveniently comparing apples and oranges and coming up with ‘truths’ that are purposefully manufactured.

IRISH WORKERS EARN 30% HIGHER WAGES : THERE ARE 2 MESSAGES IN THIS STATEMENT AND BOTH ARE DESIGNED TO DIVIDE THE WORKERS:

The obvious one is to the Irish workers and the public in Ireland: “You earn a lot!

The other hidden one is to the workers in US and elsewhere: “Look at these Irish workers, while you have to sacrifice your T&Cs to keep your jobs they earn a lot more than you. How dare they demand more than what you have!!!

Next time they will tell the US workers that they are earning more than the Irish Workers and the race to bottom will continue on.

Workers’ wages cannot be compared as a point in time snapshot. Wages are a result of years of struggle and industrial agreements. They depend on local, national, social, political and economic parameters as well as things like cost of living, inflation etc. To say that Irish workers earn more the workers in the US is nonsense. You can’t simply compare two things like that without presenting all the related issues, facts and figures. Furthermore, over the years, Irish workers have taken many hits on their wages. Austerity and cuts have had a direct impact on living conditions of workers in Ireland.

HOW ABOUT LEVELLING OFF PROFITS?

If we are talking about ‘harmonising’ and ‘levelling off’ things, why don’t we also look at profits made by multinationals across different countries and harmonise these. How about taking a different look at things and telling the multinationals to reduce their profit margins in countries where there are greater workers’ exploitations, less workers’ rights, less salaries and higher profit margins.

Surely, US workers would not be the worse exploited ones but regardless, why don’t we ask Valeant to present details of profit breakdowns in each and every part of the world and reduce the highest profits rates to bring them in line with the rest of them.

Is this so crazy?

Well, that’s exactly what the company is telling the workers. If you think asking the company to reduce profits is crazy, then so must be company asking the workers to reduce wages.

DID VALEANT DISCOVER THE WATERFORD WORKERS’ WAGES NOW?

Valeant knew all details and fats and figures before they took over Bausch & Lomb. They also had a clear plan to reduce workers T&Cs before they completed the acquisition deal. They act now as if they are shocked and terrified by the discovery of the wages of workers in Ireland. The question is what were the pro-acquisition promises made to workers in terms of protecting T&Cs? What were the discussions between the company and trade union representatives? Were there any discussions before the takeover deal was completed in August 2013? How much was Minister Bruton involved? How much did he know about the forthcoming job losses and wage cuts?

HOW ABOUT LEVELLING OFF CORPORATION TAX?

As we are comparing workers’ wages in different countries and reduce the seemingly ‘higher’ ones, how about looking at corporation tax and asking the multinationals to harmonise their tax?

Ireland has one of the lowest corporation tax rate in the world. How about asking Valeant to pay something in the range of 15% to 35% to bring the tax in Ireland in line with the US tax range?

Surely if a corporation wants to bring inline the workers’ wages across the world, to make them the same everywhere, surely we also need to look into profits, taxation, overall working conditions and all other parameters...

Using the jargons of corporate language, “how about achieving synergies from mergers, acquisitions and tax measures that benefits people around the world, majority of the people, and not just a few shareholders?

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