Up to 785 people are set to lose their jobs in Ireland after the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced a major restructuring of its manufacturing business.
Ireland was one of the worst-hit countries in the latest round of cuts - with three out of its eight sites earmarked for closure globally by the multinational giant.
Pfizer boss Nat Ricciardi told staff the firm has “a tremendous global workforce and some of the best manufacturing facilities in the industry”.
But that did nothing for the 785 employees in Ireland left clinging to any hope of getting another job during the downturn.
In Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, 510 staff are to go, and Loughbeg and Shanbally in County Cork, face a future on the dole queue unless a buyer is quickly found for the plants. Manufacturing in Newbridge, County Kildare, will also be dramatically reduced with 275 job cuts.
Andrew Perry, a 52-year-old biochemical technician with Pfizer was told the news alongside his fellow staff in the main canteen at 1.30pm.
“We were told about all sorts of restructuring, downsizing -- all these euphemistic words they have. So the whole site will effectively be gone if they don’t find a buyer by the end of first quarter 2012,” he said.
“We were shocked because the major investment was only there, 250 million euro was invested a couple of years ago, so we thought our futures were secure. We were told they were secure in respect of that investment but obviously once they bought Wyeth’s, our fate was sealed then because there was such a large capacity at Wyeth’s,” he added.
“I’ve a mortgage, everybody has... I’m the single earner in the family so obviously when I’m gone there’s no income so I’m at the age now where I’m going to find it hard to get a job.”
Mick Duane has worked on the site at Dun Laoghaire for the past 33 years. “We took it fairly badly because we weren’t expecting the whole place. We were expecting a bit of a shutdown here and there and maybe a reduction in places,” he said.
“All we can hope is that someone takes it over,” he added.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore warned that 1,500 to 2,000 other jobs were at risk as a result of the announcement, and asked if the coalition 26-County government had “thrown in the towel” on the job losses or made efforts to reduce the number.
Tanaiste Mary Coughlan claimed the job losses had nothing to do with the Irish economy but were a consequence of overcapacity following the multinational’s purchase of Wyeth.
Sinn Fein Spokesperson the Enterprise, Trade and Employment Arthur Morgan said the absence of a concrete job creation package was crippling the economic recovery.
“We have been told time and time again that pharmaceuticals will be integral in the development of Ireland’s smart economy, yet the Government have failed to capitalise on this high-end industry which has the potential to create employment for thousands of skilled people across this State,” said Deputy Morgan.
“While Pfizer are cutting jobs globally, this has dealt another crippling blow to the Irish labour market, where there are no prospects of alternative employment.
“The Government and its Ministers are quick to get a photo taken when there are any new job announcements, but they are consistently absent from the cold-face where people are losing their jobs.
“The Government is failing the people of this State and the absence of a concrete job creation package is crippling our economic recovery.”