Pharma giant to axe 121 jobs in Cork

PHARMACEUTICAL giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is to axe 121 jobs – almost a quarter of its workforce – from its plant in Currabinny, Co Cork.

After months of speculation, staff were told that the company wants to shed 55 jobs from its manufacturing facility following the outcome of a formal business review which has been ongoing since May.

But these job losses are in addition to 66 job losses being sought through proposed changes to shift patterns. Talks with trade unions and other employee representatives on this proposal are ongoing.

GSK said formal consultation regarding the latest proposed job losses will begin immediately. Employees will receive full outplacement support from GSK Cork, the company said.

“As a company, we have to anticipate and respond to changing market situations to remain competitive,” said Finbar Whyte, vice-president and site director of GSK Cork. “This proposal is regrettable, however, it does represent the best strategic route for the Cork site and for GSK overall.

“We are committed to working closely with all employees to ensure that we are able to safeguard the future of GSK Cork and, most importantly, protect employment at the site wherever possible.”

SIPTU said it would be seeking the Labour Relations Commission’s involvement in discussions with GSK. It said almost half of those due to be laid off are SIPTU members.

“At a time when the prospect of re-employment is at an all-time low these job cuts are devastating,” said SIPTU sectoral organiser, Alan O’Leary. “The Lower Harbour area in Cork has been rocked by significant job cuts over the past two years with over 1,000 workers in the pharmaceutical and chemical sector losing their jobs.

“This has had a dramatic effect on the wider local community with many of these workers living in this area. The Government must now introduce an urgent, tangible and real job stimulus initiative in the sector as a matter of priority to ensure that we do not lose any more highly qualified staff.”

This latest announcement by one of the country’s flagship pharmaceutical employers comes just a month after Schering-Plough, one of the longest established pharma companies in Cork, announced plans to shed 160 jobs over three years.

And in May, Pfizer said it would restructure its Irish operations with the loss of 300 jobs at its Loughbeg and Shanbally plants in Cork.

Cork South Central TD Ciarán Lynch described GSK’s announcement as “another devastating blow”.

“These recent announcements restate the need for job protection and job creation to be at forefront of the Government’s agenda.

“The loss of every single job comes at a cost of €20,000 in terms of social welfare payments and lost taxes.”

GSK, which is the world’s second-biggest drug-maker, employs close to 1,500 people at five sites in Cork, Waterford, Sligo and Dublin.

Yesterday’s announcement does not affect the Waterford or Dublin operations. The Sligo plant is due to close next year.


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