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Union calls on AstraZeneca to reconsider Alderley Park plans

Unite says move to Cambridge will take years to deliver value

Britain's biggest union Unite has called on AstraZeneca (AZ) to reconsider its plans to transfer 1,600 jobs from its Alderley Park base in Cheshire to Cambridge by 2016.

Unite will today meet with senior management representatives at AZ to discuss the plans, which form a key part of the company's overhaul of the way it conducts research.

Unite regional officer Gary Owen said: "AstraZeneca's decision to relocate over a thousand jobs to Cambridge is a massive blow for the North West. The company is creating a skills crisis for the local economy, and appear to be making a U-turn on plans for a biotechnology park on the site which involved a £5m grant from the government.

"Unite will be demanding that AstraZeneca rethinks its decision and looks at alternatives to relocation. The union will be making it a priority to closely scrutinise the business case and suggest counter-proposals to the one currently on the table. 

Announcing its plans last month, AZ said it expects to make around 600 redundancies as part of the move.

Unite's Owen added: "Staff have told us they are shell-shocked by this announcement, whilst others are angry. It is going to be a real struggle to relocate families hundreds of miles away to East Anglia.

"The union will also be questioning the impact the move to Cambridge could have on the current pipeline and delivery of important new medicines to patients. It's likely to be years before the newly proposed Cambridge site delivers value to the business and its customers."

The restructure, which will also see AZ's current London headquarters move to Cambridge, forms part of a three-year plan from AZ to drastically reshape its approach to research.

It will see three R&D centres set up, one each in the UK, the US and Sweden and a previously announced reorganisation of its senior research heads.

The UK facility, which is expected to house a workforce of about 2,000 people when it launches in 2016, will be based in Cambridge and will benefit from a £330m investment from AZ.

It adds to the company's existing presence in the city through its MedImmune subsidiary, which focuses on early stage development in biologics.

29th April 2013

From: Research

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