Pfizer to axe 150-plus jobs

More than 150 jobs are to be lost at leading pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, it was confirmed today.

More than 150 jobs are to be lost at leading pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, it was confirmed today.

A further 80 positions will be saved at its Loughbeg site in Cork after the company secured its sale as a going concern to Portuguese pharmaceutical company Hovione.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said the cuts are devastating news for workers and their families.

“Ensuring these workers are given every support during the handover of the plant must now be a top priority,” said the Cork TD.

Pfizer, which is one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, employs 2,300 people in Ireland. The majority of them are based in Cork.

Almost two years ago it reviewed its Irish operations and announced it was closing a manufacturing unit at Ringaskiddy and selling plants at Loughbeg and Little Island. More than 500 jobs were affected at the time.

But in August it revealed 180 posts would be lost at its flagship Little Island plant after management failed to secure a buyer for the facility. It will close by the end of 2009.

Paul Duffy, Pfizer’s vice-president of manufacturing for Ireland, said the company remained committed to efforts sell the operations at Loughbeg.

“We have worked determinedly over the past 20 months to sell the Loughbeg active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) plant in order that our colleagues would be able to continue working here,” he said.

“While we have been successful in preserving 70 – 80 positions and while some colleagues will opt for voluntary severance, unfortunately there will not be positions for all currently employed at the site and there will be some enforced redundancies.

“I know that today’s news is mixed.”

Mr Duffy said Pfizer’s production at Loughbeg API would continue until end of March, at which point the sale to Hovione would be completed.

Mr Martin said although the takeover is welcomed, the job losses will cause great disappointment in the communities of Cork Harbour.

He stressed those affected should be kept updated of developments and the terms which will be offered to them.

“In the remaining three months before Pfizer hands over the factory it is important that employees are kept fully informed of developments,” he added.

“In addition the training and job creation agencies of the state are ready to provide support to those workers which will be looking for new employment.”

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