Friday 20 April 2018

Forced redundancies likely as Pfizer confirms loss of 177 jobs

Georgina O'Halloran

WORKERS at Pfizer face the prospect of compulsory redundancies as the pharmaceutical giant cut 177 jobs at two plants.

Pfizer yesterday announced 129 job losses next year at its manufacturing site in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, and a further 48 at its plant in Little Island, which is just outside Cork city.

Speaking outside the Ringaskiddy plant, Dr Paul Duffy, vice president of Pfizer Ireland, said it would be foolish to rule out further job cuts.

"I'm not sure anybody can ever guarantee a person a job for life, so I'd be naive and foolish to say that cannot be the case, but from our perspective I know we've got very good people.

"I think we'll be here into the future. We've got to work hard to make sure we are as competitive as we need to be to guarantee that future."

A spokeswoman for Pfizer said the voluntary redundancy scheme was open from yesterday, but that it was likely compulsory redundancies would be required.

She said Pfizer was committed to supporting fully those who were leaving the organisation through a comprehensive redundancy programme.

SIPTU shop steward at the Little Island plant Gerry Sharma yesterday spoke of the "devastation" and "sadness" at the facility yesterday morning when the job losses were announced in the canteen by Seamus Fives, site leader at the two Cork sites.

"The mood is very sombre at the moment. Pfizer is a very good company to work for and these kinds of jobs won't come around again," said Mr Sharma.

"There are a lot of people being made redundant who would have big mortgages and the jobs market is very bleak at the moment. It's just another black day in the Irish economy."

Mr Sharma said the majority of people who would be affected at the Little Island site were young men in their 30s with families and that it would affect all areas within the plant, including production, quality control, quality assessment and laboratory work.

Patent

The move by Pfizer is in response to a reduction in the volume of medicine manufactured at the two sites, and the patent expiry of a number of medications including Lipitor, the bestselling cholesterol-lowering medicine, which is manufactured at the Little Island plant.

A number of other medicines produced at the two sites also face patent expiration, including Viagra, used to treat erectile dysfunction, plus a drug to treat migraine and a drug to treat fungal infections.

Yesterday evening, consultation meetings were under way between company, employee and union representatives.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin described the job losses as a "devastating blow".

And Fine Gael Cork South Central TD Jerry Buttimer said the job losses were regrettable.

Irish Independent

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