Pfizer cuts manufacturing again with plant closure
A packaging plant in Ireland is the latest to come into the cross-hairs of the people at Pfizer tasked with streamlining its manufacturing operations.
Around 150 workers are expected to lose their jobs next year, with the packaging operations at the Newbridge facility in County Kildare eventually scheduled to close down entirely in 2015.
In 2010 Pfizer said 275 workers were to lose their jobs at Newbridge, with local press reports suggesting that most of these redundancies had already taken place by the time the latest announcement was made. All told the plant employs around 670 people at the moment.
The company blamed the latest round of cuts on increased generic competition in the marketplace following “patent expiration of a number of Pfizer’s key medicines”, which it said had forced it to reduce “manufacturing volumes and an excess of manufacturing capacity globally”.
Newbridge currently supplies over 80 product formulations across a wide range of product categories including central nervous system, hormone therapy and oral contraceptives, according to Pfizer Ireland’s website. It makes around three billion tablets and 55 million packs of medication every year.
The Newbridge announcement comes shortly after Pfizer unveiled its intention to close its Barceloneta facility in Puerto Rico by 2017 with the loss of around 500 jobs, although the latest setback in Ireland is offset by the company’s decision earlier this year to spend $100 million upgrading its Grange Castle site in Dublin and $30 million at Ringaskiddy in Cork.
“Ireland remains a key strategic location for Pfizer with many of our leading and newest medicines manufactured here and the company continues to make investments in the Irish operations,” said Pfizer Ireland’s vice president for manufacturing Dr Paul Duffy, who noted the company still employs around 3,200 people in the country.
Representatives from Ireland’s Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) met with the management of Pfizer Ireland on Friday to discuss the plans.
The union’s organiser Frank Jones said the news “is deeply distressing to the workers’ families and has had a devastating effect on the Newbridge area”, particularly as the timeframe for the job losses is so short.
“A previous round of redundancies, which was spread out over three years rather than a few months, has just been completed at the plant,” added Jones. “We believe that the pool of workers who will accept a voluntary redundancy package has been exhausted.”
Pfizer’s latest announcement comes shortly after Merck & Co said it planned to close its Swords facility in Ireland with the loss of 570 jobs unless it could find a buyer for the site.
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