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Abbott and GSK announce job cuts in Ireland

Nearly 300 positions to go in Cork and Tipperary

Ireland flagThe healthcare industry in Ireland faced a challenging time last week after both GSK and Abbott announced job cuts at their respective facilities.

First GSK decided to close its financial services support centre in Cork with the loss of 94 jobs and this was followed a couple of days later by Abbott's announcement it plans 200 redundancies at its vascular devices facility in Clonmel, Tipperary.

According to local reports, GSK intends to move its financial services to the UK to simplify its business structure.

A GSK spokesperson told the Irish Examiner there is the possibility that some employees may relocate to the UK, while those who leave will be offered a “competitive” redundancy package.

“We initially communicated these changes to our employees last year, but with only an indicative date. GSK will retain a strong presence in Ireland through its other businesses, which are not affected by this announcement,” the spokesperson said.

The news comes as a shock to the local community, according to Micheál Martin, leader of the Fianna Fáil political party and member of parliament for the Cork South–Central constituency.

“The news that such a high-profile employer is shedding 94 staff comes as a major body blow to this part of the country. GSK is a well respected employer, providing highly skilled and well paid positions,” he told the Irish Independent.

“The 94 families affected by this terrible news will rightly expect that the response from government is swift and co-ordinated.”

Meanwhile, Abbott's announcement of its cuts follows its recent split into two companies – AbbVie, a research-based pharmaceuticals business, and Abbott, which retains the diagnostics, medical devices, nutritionals and branded generics businesses.

In a statement, Abbott said: “The proposed redundancies are part of adjustments we are making to meet the evolving needs of the business and to remain competitive in a challenging global environment.

“The facility remains strategically important to Abbott's global vascular manufacturing network.”

In addition to the 200 job losses, Abbott also said it will not renew several dozen contractor positions when they expire at the end of March.

Ireland has struggled in recent years as the economic crisis grips Europe, and its healthcare industry has not remained immune.

Abbott has already announced the loss of 180 positions at Abbott Nutrition in Sligo, while Pfizer announced in June 2012 its intention to cut 177 manufacturing jobs in Cork.

Pricing pressures have also forced the pharma industry to make a pact with the government to reduce the country's €2bn annual drugs bill by €400m over three years.

There are some positive prospects, however, including the Irish government's Action Plan for Jobs, which plans to create 100,000 new jobs by 2016, with life sciences noted as a key area of development.

And in contrast to GSK and Abbott's plans, generics firm Mylan announced in April last year a €76m investment to create 500 jobs.

The medical devices industry is also in good health despite Abbott's job cuts, according to Sharon Higgins, director of the Irish Medical Devices Association (IMDA).

In a statement to PMLiVE, she said: “2012 was a very strong year for the dynamic med-tech industry.

“Approximately 40 per cent of all medical technology companies recently surveyed expect to recruit additional employees during the first quarter of 2013 and nearly 60 per cent expect to increase spend on R&D during the same period.”

25th February 2013

From: Sales

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