500 jobs can be saved at Pfizer, says O'Keeffe
THE Government last night signalled it was confident that one or more of the three Pfizer drug plants up for disposal could be sold -- thereby avoiding 500 job losses.
Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe said he and the IDA were now confident that some of the Pfizer plants could successfully be sold and that a number of the 785 Pfizer jobs facing the axe could be saved.
Pfizer wants to dispose of three plants -- Dun Laoghaire in Dublin and Loughbeg and Shanbally in Cork -- by 2015. If the plants cannot be sold, they will be shut down with the loss of 510 jobs.
Pfizer is also going to shed a further 275 jobs at its Newbridge, Co Kildare, plant -- though it will still retain 770 jobs at the facility.
"The IDA is already working on it -- the two plants that will be up for sale -- trying to find some buyer who will be fit for purpose for them," Mr O'Keeffe said.
"I was talking to (IDA chief) Barry O'Leary a number of times over the last few weeks as to the possibility of obtaining a buyer and we obviously remain confident that we can find somebody fit for purpose for one or both of these plants," he added.
The Government has defended its actions over recent months and stressed that everything possible was done to support Pfizer's Irish operation and to minimise job losses.
A government spokesman also pointed out that Pfizer would continue to employ almost 4,200 staff here -- and has already signalled it will make capital investments in Ireland in the near future.
Last night, Labour Affairs Minister Dara Calleary also said that Ireland had taken firm steps to address industry costs amid fears it was a factor in Pfizer's decision to reduce its Irish operations.
However, Cork TD Ciaran Lynch (Lab) said questions needed to be answered as to why Ireland was so heavily impacted while countries like France and Italy escaped.
SIPTU's Alan O'Leary said it was vital people appreciated that Pfizer would continue to be a strategic Irish employer.
"We will be doing everything in our power to make sure we can minimise the effects of the job losses, try to put pressure on the Government. It is very important that this Government steps up to the plate now," the SIPTU official said.