A HIGHLY skilled pharmaceutical workers were tonight braced for redundancy after management at Pfizer called a meeting with staff.
Union bosses with Siptu want clarification from the firm amid reports it plans to cut 180 people from its production plants in Ringaskiddy and Little Island, both in Co Cork.
Profits at the pharmaceutical firm plummeted this year after its cholesterol drug, Lipitor, lost its patent in the United States and Europe.
The ending of patents on other drugs made by the company is also expected to have an impact on its operations in Ireland.
A spokeswoman said no announcement will be made until after a meeting with staff tomorrow morning.
Siptu's Alan O'Leary said the union was aware Pfizer was conducting a business review and had been awaiting confirmation of the outcome of this process.
"The management of Pfizer recently communicated some information concerning this review process to our members, but this did not include any details concerning possible job losses," said Mr O'Leary, pharmaceutical, chemical and medical devices sector organiser.
"The company has given a commitment to revert directly to the workers once the review has been completed."
Pfizer has been one of Ireland's leading employers, with more than 4,000 staff across eight sites in Cork, Dublin, Kildare and Limerick.
Siptu represents 356 workers at the Ringaskiddy and Little Island production plants.
Mr O'Leary said workers in the Little Island plant have been aware for some time that the patent expiry on the Lipitor drug, which is produced exclusively at the facility, would most likely have a negative impact on jobs.
However, the union had reached an agreement that any proposed job losses would not occur in 2012.
"So we are surprised to hear reports that the company is seeking a substantial number of redundancies," he added.
"Siptu believes that it is both fair and reasonable for our members to expect to be the first people to be informed about any job losses.
"Our members are key stakeholders in this company and they deserve to know at first-hand the details of the Pfizer proposals."