Miserable weather matches the mood of workers
THE miserable weather outside yesterday perfectly matched the mood inside the pharmaceutical plants.
Workers left Pfizer's various Ringaskiddy plants as an icy drizzle belied the onset of summer, and masked whether several of the workers may have been crying at the news their jobs may now be gone.
Most were visibly in shock and stony-faced as they walked out of the plants following an announcement that was the nightmare most staff had feared.
John Aylworth said people were totally taken aback when they heard the actual scale of the cutbacks.
"People were in shock -- but I think the managers did a good job of preparing us. We were hoping for the best but we were prepared for the worst at the same time," he said.
"But I have to say that we were all very well briefed."
Declan Crass, who works with Mercury but is contracted with Pfizer, said everyone would now have to wait and see precisely what happens next.
"I am not sure how it is going to affect us -- people are very down about it all," he said.
"It has not been a good day for people here and we will all just have to wait and let the dust settle."
Other workers underlined the human cost of the announcement for staff. "It was shocking -- I know a few people were very upset when they heard the scale of the job losses," another worker said.
Some employees headed straight for their cars and didn't pause to answer questions from the assembled reporters.
The rain, for once, came as a blessed excuse not to linger and talk.
It was saddest outside Pfizer's brand new €190m Shanbally plant where 75 staff are employed.
Workers here thought they would escape the global cull because their high-tech plant was only opened last year.
Now, all 75 face losing their jobs if a buyer cannot be found for the state-of-the-art facility that is suddenly surplus to requirements.
The trade union SIPTU is demanding an immediate meeting with Pfizer management to discuss the situation, and what hopes there are of reducing the 785 job losses.
"Our main priority is to protect our members' interests in whatever way possible," SIPTU branch organiser Michelle Quinn said.
"Today's announcement has come as a devastating blow to Pfizer employees in Dublin, Kildare and Cork."
The prospect of 785 job losses within Pfizer-Wyeth's empire exceeded everyone's worst fears yesterday -- and the cost was already being assessed in the Cork town of Carrigaline where a majority of local Pfizer workers live. In the Carrigaline Court Hotel, patrons and staff assessed the long-term trauma to the local economy.
"I never thought I'd live to see the day that jobs were being axed like this in Pfizer. That used to be a job for life," local Jim O'Sullivan said. "It'll be a disaster for Carrigaline -- most families around here have someone or some relative working down in Ringaskiddy."