More than 300 jobs to be lost at Novartis Cork

ONE of Ireland’s main pharmaceutical employers, Novartis, is set to axe 300-plus jobs as part of a major restructuring of its Cork operation.

Novartis, which employs more than 1,600 people across Ireland, has called a meeting of workers at its main Ringaskiddy plant at 8.15am today.

The meeting was called just hours after US electronics firm, Molex, confirmed the loss of almost 500 jobs in Clare with the closure of its Shannon plant next year.

Irish industry was reeling from the prospective loss of more than 800 jobs in the space of just 24 hours.

A press statement is expected once that Novartis staff meeting concludes.

However, local Ringaskiddy sources said that major job cuts are now feared for at least one of the firm’s three Cork operations.

It is understood the job cuts will be focused on one of the Swiss firm’s Cork operations – and followed a global review of operations aimed at consolidating future production and services.

Workers are expected to be briefed that the pharmaceutical giant will try to maximise the retention of as many jobs as possible within its Cork operations.

Any job losses will be introduced on a phased basis from 2020 onwards.

The pharmaceutical giant operates three facilities in Cork – a manufacturing facility and a supply complex in Ringaskiddy and a separate facility on the Model Farm Road.

The company also has a shared services operation in Dublin. The Dublin operation will be unaffected by the proposed cuts.

It is estimated that Novartis economic activity in Ireland is worth more than €250 million to the domestic economy – with the firm also delivering around €230 million in direct spending on wages, research and development, service supports and purchasing.

Cork TD Seán Sherlock said the announcement is a ‘hammer blow’ for the Cork region and following the Movil announcement in Shannon is “a deeply worrying trend that needs a strong Government response”.

“The loss of over 320 jobs at the plant is devastating,” he said.

“That this would come just a few weeks before Christmas will be a hard blow for many families. That is before taking into account the large number of ancillary jobs that are supported by Novartis, through sub contracts for services so the figure could be a lot higher.

“That these pharma job losses in Cork follow a further 500 announced yesterday is deeply worrying and the Government must respond to the merging trend and ensure any further losses are mitigated.

“The Foreign Direct Investment sector in the South and Mid West region appears more vulnerable today than it did yesterday.

“There are over 320 families facing into an uncertain future and whether they will be able to find jobs in the Cork region to match their skills,” he continued.

“Just as the Minister has visited Shannon, she should visit Cork to outline if these jobs can be saved and to outline what measures will be put in place to protect the pharmaceutical and manufacturing sector in the region.”

Opened in the early 1990s in Ringaskiddy under the Sandoz brand, the facility now ranks as one of the major pharmaceutical-chemical operations in the Cork harbour area.

Ringaskiddy has established itself as one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical hubs and ranks as one of the biggest employment centres not just in Cork but in the south west.

The last major round of job cuts occurred in Ringaskiddy when US pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, reduced its production capacity in Cork in 2012/2013 with the loss of more than 200 jobs.

The firm’s highest profile product, Viagra, has its active ingredient, Sildenafil, manufactured in Ringaskiddy. Pfizer also cut 150 jobs in Kildare in 2013.

Cork boasts manufacturing or research and development operations for some of the leading pharmaceutical firms in the world including Novartis, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson,  Eli Lily and MSD.

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