Pfizer workers fear selling plant is a ‘long shot’

Workers at an under-threat Pfizer plant in Little Island, Co Cork, are not so optimistic the facility can be sold as a going concern.

A number of employees within the active primary ingredients site are already resigned to signing on the dole when the plant closes in Sept 2014.

Siptu, however, says securing quality jobs for its members is of paramount concern.

The global pharmaceutical giant plans to consolidate active ingredient manufacturing for key medicines manufactured in Ireland and will, during 2014, relocate products manufactured at the Little Island facility to its Ringaskiddy site.

In the interim, a total of 136 employees in Little Island face an uncertain future.

One source said some colleagues “are already resigned to the prospect of unemployment”.

“I know Pfizer has previously sold off other plants around the world and two in Ireland but, in the present economic climate, it’s a big ask. I can tell you the mood wasn’t very good when we were told the company was trying to find a buyer for this,” said one worker, who asked not to be named.

Another said workers were concerned about the age profile of the Little Island staff.

“Despite their wealth of experience in the pharmaceutical business, they might find it very hard to get alternative employment.

“The least experienced person employed here has 12 years’ service. I’d say the average service is 15 years and there are many who have far more than that,” the worker said.

“We’d be very sceptical about Pfizer’s prospects of selling this plant. Of course we hope they do but, in the present financial climate, it looks like a long shot,” he added.

Meanwhile, workers met yesterday with a senior Siptu official to discuss the fallout from the midweek announcement.

A Pfizer spokeswoman, meanwhile, reiterated that the company would do everything in its power to sell off the site in an attempt to preserve the workers’ jobs.

She said there are no plans in place to relocate all the staff to Ringaskiddy as that facility has the capacity to accommodate the workload transfer.

However, she did say if some positions became available in the interim at Ringaskiddy, due to retirements or other means, “every reasonable opportunity will be afforded to Little Island staff to apply”.

“Pfizer has a good track record in finding buyers for our sites,” the spokesperson said. “In recent years, globally, we have successfully sold 13 sites, including some in Ireland such as Shanbally which was sold to Biomarin, and Dun Laoghaire which sold to Amgen.

“While the Little Island site is a leading active ingredient manufacturing facility with experienced and skilled staff, success will depend on market factors, including global demand for pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities. Current market conditions are challenging and the probability of a sale is unpredictable,” she said.


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