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Sunday 20 October 2019

136 jobs at risk as Pfizer seeks buyer

Ralph Riegel

DESPERATE efforts are under way to sell an Irish pharmaceutical plant as a going concern to save 136 jobs.

The Government and IDA will support efforts by Pfizer to sell its Little Island plant in Cork after the US pharmaceutical giant warned it had no option but to consolidate all production at its plant in Ringaskiddy.

Little Island will be the fourth Irish plant disposed of by Pfizer in four years. Three other plants – two in Cork and one in Dublin – were successfully sold to other pharmaceutical firms and most of the jobs saved.

Pfizer now employs 3,200 people at six sites in Ireland.

The Little Island decision was forced by depressed global pharmaceutical markets and some of Pfizer's key products – including Lipitor and Viagra – coming off patent protection, with sales being hit by competition from cut-price generic rivals.

"Ireland remains a key strategic location for Pfizer with extensive operations in Cork, Kildare and Dublin," said the company's Irish vice-president, Dr Paul Duffy.

SIPTU and Pfizer's Little Island workers admitted they were "bitterly disappointed but not surprised" by the news – Pfizer last year sought 50 redundancies at the plant.

Union organiser Alan O'Leary said SIPTU's sole focus now is "to secure as many jobs as possible".

Pfizer said it will try to sell the Little Island plant as a going concern, but will exit the facility by the end of next year.

All product manufacturing will be transferred to Ringaskiddy over the next nine months. If no sale is agreed, all 136 workers will be laid off. Pfizer confirmed that staff will not transfer en bloc to Ringaskiddy, though some may be given preferential application status for any jobs that arise there.

Meanwhile, a Government TD has called on the IDA to offer its backing to the 50 bank employees losing their jobs with the closure of the Citi operation in Waterford.

The firm said it was closing its hedge fund base at the IDA business park at the end of the year as a result of "restructuring".

The 2,200 people it employs in Dublin will not be affected by the move.

It was reported yesterday that half of the 50 workers employed in Waterford will be offered redeployment to Dublin, but local Fine Gael TD John Deasy said the IDA should put pressure on the company to extend this option to all staff.

The IDA invested in a Citi expansion three years ago, when 250 jobs were created in Dublin and Waterford.

Citi said in a statement: "We will support any employees who are affected by changes within our organisation."

Irish Independent

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