Update: The union representing Novartis workers, SIPTU, is seeking an urgent meeting with management at the firm over the job cuts at its plant in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork.
SIPTU's Alan O’Leary said: “Workers were aware that a review of operations was underway by senior Novartis management. However, the announcement today of 320 job cuts has deeply shocked the workers and their families.
“We understand that the decision to cut jobs is part of the ongoing evaluation of the Novartis manufacturing network around the world. It is our understanding the job cuts will occur over a period to 2022. We are seeking an urgent meeting with senior Novartis management in order to investigate at every opportunity to minimise the number of jobs impacted.”
SIPTU Organiser, Allen Dillon, said: “Our members were advised a number of weeks ago that Novartis was looking at a sale of the site in Ringaskiddy.
"The level of job cuts is considerable and we intend to engage with management urgently to save as many jobs as possible.”
Update: Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis is set to shed 320 jobs, more than half the workforce, at its Cork campus over the next three years.
The news has been relayed this morning to the almost 530 staff who work at the two Novartis groups based on its Ringaskiddy campus.
About 350 people work in its manufacturing operation with a further 180 staff based at a global service centre on the same site.
The redundancies will affect both operations with a total of 240 jobs set to be axed from the manufacturing site by 2022.
The first redundancies will be made at this site in 2021, with more the following year.
A total of 80 jobs will be shed at the global service centre by 2021, with the first redundancies getting underway next year and more the following year.
Tanaiste Simon Coveney said the news is a significant blow and very difficult for the highly skilled workers of Novartis and their families.
Mr Coveney said: “I have spoken to the Ministers for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humpreys, as well as the IDA to ensure all available supports from state agencies are now open to the staff affected by this Novartis announcement.
“The staff are highly skilled in the competitive pharmaceutical industry and the state agencies will use the 3-year timeline laid out by Novartis to work with the company and the workers to protect employment.”
The manufacturing from Ringaskiddy is expected to be relocated to contract manufacturing sites while the business service jobs will move to other Novartis sites across Europe and Asia.
The decision follows a global review by Novartis of an estimated 100 sites around the world which has been underway since 2016.
It is understood that the staff are being told the decision is part of a global restructuring and consolidation process arising out of that review.
The company is also expected to announce a period of consultation with the staff in advance of the redundancies.
The news, which began to filter out last night, has come as a shock, given the scale of the job losses, and because Novartis was one of the first pharmaceutical companies to locate in Ireland in the 1950’s.
It has grown to become one of the country’s leading employers in the healthcare industry employing around 1,100 people at its operations in Cork and Dublin.
Its Dublin business centre operation, which employs an estimated 660 staff, is unaffected by this announcement.
Fianna Fáil Party Leader Micheál Martin said: "We all know of many families in the region who have relatives employed with Novartis. This is a very worrying time for the families and their loved ones.
“Support for staff let go in the shape of social protection support, and guidance in seeking new employment opportunities should be provided.
"It is important now, that management engage with staff to outline a clear picture for those who face into these jobs losses and that supports from the organisation and the government are provided immediately," concluded Deputy Martin.
Labour's Seán Sherlock said the decision is a "hammer blow" for the Cork region.
The Cork TD said: " That this would come just a few weeks before Christmas will be a hard blow for many families. The Foreign Direct Investment sector in the South and Mid West region appears more vulnerable today than it did yesterday.
“There are over 320 families facing into an uncertain future and whether they will be able to find jobs in the Cork region to match their skills.
“Just as the Minister has visited Shannon, she should visit Cork to outline if these jobs can be saved and to outline what measures will be put in place to protect the pharmaceutical and manufacturing sector in the region.”
By Sean O'Riordan
All 550 employees at Novartis pharmaceutical plant in Co Cork have been asked to attend a special meeting this morning, raising fears that major job losses are on the way.
Novartis, which has operated in Co Cork for the past 25 years, has requested that all staff, regardless of what shift they are on, attend the meeting in the Ringaskiddy plant.
A spokeswoman for the Swiss-owned company declined to provide any further information, saying that anything the company had to share would be done so in the first instance with its employees. Meanwhile, employees of Molex Ireland in Shannon, Co Clare, were reeling last night with the news that 500 jobs are to go by the end of next year.
Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan described the closure as a “huge blow to the midwest”, where the company has been a major employer for almost 50 years. She said the workers were “collateral damage” in the trade war between the US and China.
The US multinational makes a range of electronic components for use in a variety of industries. Business and Enterprise Minister Heather Humphreys will travel to Shannon today, where she is expected to come under pressure to set up a task force for the area.
The company said the decision was a very difficult one due to its impact on employees and the deep ties it has with the region. Fianna Fáil business and enterprise spokesman Robert Troy said it was “imperative” that employees are supported with upskilling opportunities.
“They cannot be abandoned by government,” said Mr Troy.
Sinn Féin’s spokesman on jobs, Maurice Quinlivan, said the Molex job losses would be the biggest in the midwest since the closure in 2009 of the Dell plant. He said indirect jobs in local businesses would also be affected.
He called on the IDA to focus on attracting businesses to the Shannon Free Zone. In Ringaskiddy this morning, senior Novartis management will “provide an update” on a review of the company’s Cork operations which has been underway for some time.
The Ringaskiddy campus contains the manufacturing site, Novartis Ringaskiddy Limited (NRL) and Novartis International Pharmaceutical Ltd, Branch Ireland (NIPBI) which is comprised of the International Services Laboratory, the external supply organisation, supply chain and administrative functions.
Operational since 1994, NRL is a manufacturer of intermediates and active pharmaceutical ingredients.
The €850m facility includes manufacturing operations, quality control laboratories, warehouse, technical, IT, and engineering services. Novartis has more than 220 subsidiaries and approximately 130,000 employees worldwide and its products are sold in more than 180 countries.
Additional reporting by Catherine Shanahan