Pfizer staff summoned for job loss discussions

Pfizer management will today brief workers in its plants in Little Island and Ringaskiddy on plans for 180 redundancies.

The pharmaceutical giant had planned to make the announcement tomorrow but brought the briefings forward following reports in yesterday’s Irish Examiner.

Yesterday morning, a number of workers were contacted by phone and told to make themselves available for the meetings.

Staff members are understood to be angry that the jobs threat emerged in the media and not through direct communication from management, especially as there had been speculation about an announcement for some time.

It is expected that 120 to 130 jobs will be lost in Ringaskiddy, with the rest to go in Little Island.

The decision to cut staff numbers has been taken as part of a need to make savings of €80m. Pfizer’s finances have been hit hard by the loss of patent protection in the US in November and Europe last month for its cholesterol-reducing drug Lipitor.

Siptu, which represents 356 workers at the plants, said it was seeking clarification from Pfizer management.

The union’s pharmaceutical, chemical, and medical devices sector organiser, Alan O’Leary, said: “Siptu was aware that Pfizer was conducting a business review, and is awaiting confirmation of the outcome of this process. The management of Pfizer recently communicated some information concerning this review process to our members, but this did not include any details concerning possible job losses. The company has given a commitment to revert directly to the workers once the review has been completed.

“The workers employed in the Little Island plant have been aware for some time that the patent expiry on the Lipitor drug, which is produced exclusively at the facility, would most likely have a negative impact on jobs. However, Siptu reached an agreement that any proposed job losses would not occur in 2012, so we are surprised to hear reports that the company is seeking a substantial number of redundancies.”

He said it was “fair and reasonable” for his members to expect to be the first to be told about any job losses.

“Our members are key stakeholders in this company and they deserve to know at first-hand the details of the Pfizer proposals,” said Mr O’Leary. “Siptu is seeking immediate clarification from the company concerning the reported job losses and the impact that this may have on our members.”

May’s results showed Pfizer’s revenue fell to $15.4bn (€12.4bn) from $16.5bn a year earlier, hurt by a 25% drop in sales because of the loss of the US patent protection for Lipitor.

Pfizer, which has invested €5.5bn here, employs about 4,000 people in Ireland.

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