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180 jobs face axe at Ulverston Glaxo plant

AN Ulverston firm is planning compulsory redundancies next year, despite being shortlisted for a £300m development.


GlaxoSmithKline is one of three sites nationally in the running for a new biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant.

But a decision could be 18 months away, so managers are pressing ahead with a plan to cut the workforce by around 180 to 220.

Unions at the antibiotics factory in North Lonsdale Road say they will argue in future negotiations that Glaxo should put further job cuts on hold until more is known about the potential new biochemicals plant.

The announcement about a possible new plant followed the government’s pre-budget report proposals to cut tax by more than 60 per cent on profits from UK patents. The other potential sites being considered by Glaxo bosses are in Stevenage and Barnard Castle in County Durham.

The Ulverston plant announced in February last year that it was slashing 330 jobs to cut costs.

The factory’s financial problems started when its successful antibiotics lost patent protection and could be copied more cheaply.

Senior Unite union official, Steve Mashiter, said: “We are not happy losing people and we are not happy about compulsory redundancies.

“I am sure that people are crossing their fingers that this new plant will come to Ulverston and everybody will try to push in that direction. You can rest assured we will press it from now on, although everyone accepts it is early days.”

Unions say the site has the infrastructure, including an underused modern effluent plant, and the skills for a new plant – while space is available after the clearance of several buildings.

Mr Mashiter said the union would use the hope of the new plant in opposing any compulsory job cuts.

A spokeswoman for Glaxo in Ulverston said: “Upon announcing the business plan to restructure the Ulverston site operations with associated redundancies in April 2008, the site headcount was over 530.

“Since then we’ve provided voluntary redundancy opportunities to staff and through consultation we’ve been able to release a number of these applicants. This has resulted in a site headcount at the end of 2009 slightly less than 400.

“We still have a number of outstanding voluntary redundancy applications to consider and phased release plans will be developed, where appropriate, such that the releases are again consistent with business needs.

“In addition to voluntary redundancy, the site recently communicated that it envisaged a compulsory redundancy programme would be required during September 2010.”

She said Glaxo was considering the request for more voluntary redundancies.

Of the new plant, the spokeswoman said: “GSK recently announced the potential to build a new biopharmaceutical plant somewhere in the UK, but the timing of the decision on where this may be built is unlikely to be taken in the short term.

“The business plan is designed to mitigate the effects of a deteriorating market situation for existing Ulverston products resulting from severe competitive pressures.

“Delivery of the plan aims to provide a platform for the best possible chance of a sustainable future for the Ulverston site.

“Until the location of the new biopharmaceutical plant is confirmed, and this is likely to be some time off, it is critical for the site’s future that the site maintains delivery of the business plan to the required timeframes.”

The plan will reduce the land used by approximately 40 per cent to about 30 acres.

Furness Enterprise chief Harry Knowles said his agency would “move heaven and earth” for a new plant if it became a real possibility but said the new plant was highly speculative.

The agency says it will work alongside Glaxo in a bid to minimise job losses and to maximise jobs created from the Glaxo Enterprise Fund, which was set up by the firm to help employees facing redundancy.

Have your say

i bet the unions will blame maggie lol

Posted by red white and blue on 22 December 2009 at 15:35

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