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Jobs bombshell as 570 axed and 358 put at risk

IT was another bleak day on the jobs front yesterday with almost 1,000 jobs on the line at a major pharmaceutical company and a high street retailer.

Global pharmaceutical manufacturer MSD announced it is to cease operations at its plant in Swords, Co Dublin, by the end of 2017 with the potential loss of 570 jobs.

An estimated 130 of these jobs are due to go by the middle of 2014 as the company winds down.

The major blow came as it was revealed that 358 jobs are at risk after fashion retailer A-Wear was placed in receivership.

Receiver Ken Fennell was poring over the books last night to determine which of A-Wear's 31 Irish stores are to close but a spokesman said: "It's inevitable that some stores will close."


Signs went up on shop windows yesterday informing they will remain closed until further notice, putting the livelihoods of 117 full-time and 241 part-time staff at risk.

Meanwhile, the mood was sombre at MSD's manufacturing plant as workers left for the day, knowing that their days there are numbered.

Michelle Lujan (46), from Balbriggan, Co Dublin, has worked as a process operator for the past 13 years.

She said staff were stunned to learn that the company is to close as part of a global restructuring plan even though "the place is flying".

"It did come as a shock" she told the Herald. "I'm very worried. At this age, everything is against you. I'll be nearly 50."

Patricia Rogers (48), who has also worked at the plant for the past 13 years, said the mood was one of "total devastation".

Ms Rogers, who lives in nearby Garristown, Co Meath, said the closure would lead to more job losses locally. "It has a huge impact on the whole area," she said.

John Cronin (41), said he had only been with the company for the past 18 months and fears he will be one of the first people to be made redundant.


But he said there is a ray of hope that the firm will try to find jobs for workers elsewhere within the company.

Last night, trade union Unite, which represents 360 workers at the plant, also expressed its shock at the announcement and pledged "to do everything in its power to help find a buyer for the facility and preserve some or all of the highly-skilled jobs".

A company spokesman said the first 130 redundancies will be complete by the middle of 2014 followed by further cuts that will be phased in between 2015 and 2017.

"As always we will do everything that we can to mitigate against people losing their jobs and where we have opportunities for people to move between sites we'll absolutely deal with that as a priority," he said

The company also employs more than 2,000 workers in counties Carlow, Cork, Tipperary and Wicklow as well as in Leopardstown, Dublin but they will not be affected by the closure.

However products manufactured in Swords will be shipped to the company's sites in Holland, the US and Belgium.