Unions seek urgent meeting with AstraZeneca over future of 2,150 jobs

AstraZenecaUnions are seeking urgent meetings with AstraZeneca management after the company announced plans to cut 2,150 jobs in George Osborne’s constituency.

The news comes just months after the Chancellor helped secure a £5m government grant for the pharmaceutical company’s Alderley Park research and development centre in Cheshire.

GMB and Unite are concerned that 550 jobs will go at the Cheshire site, with a further 1,600 jobs transferred to Cambridge, and 150 jobs lost elsewhere in the UK over the next three years.

GMB national officer Allan Black said “This is disastrous news for the UK and for the North West in particular. The vast majority of the jobs to go are research and development jobs at the Alderley Park site in Cheshire. There has been salami slicing of jobs at this site but this is by far and away the largest slice of job losses at the site to date.

“These are cutting edge R&D jobs that are both well paid and essential for a thriving UK economy. Highly skilled and qualified workers will be put on the scrap heap. GMB and other unions will seek a meeting with Astra Zeneca to discuss this devastating news and the business case for it.”

AstraZeneca plans to move jobs from Alderley Park in Cheshire, the company’s largest research and development site, to Cambridge. Alderley Park has a 40-year history and has been responsible for the discovery and development of hugely important medical treatments as well as being a lead for cancer research in Europe.

Unite national officer Linda McCulloch said: “This is a massive blow for the North West. The company is creating a skills crisis for the local economy.

“After forty years of success and hundreds of millions of pounds of investment, we are at a loss as to why AstraZeneca is now pulling out of Alderley Park. The region desperately needs this highly skilled workforce –  they make a huge contribution to the economy and to the community.

“Staff will be shell-shocked by this announcement. Skilled scientific jobs are in short supply and there are many families based around Alderley Park with deep roots in the community. It is going to be a real struggle to relocate families hundreds of miles away to Cambridge.

“Unite will be meeting with the company to demand that AstraZeneca rethinks this decision and looks at alternatives to relocation. The union will be making it a priority to contact local MPs to urge them to intervene. The government has a clear duty to act and encourage AstraZeneca to continue to have a strong presence in the North West . In the middle of a economic crisis this government should do everything possible to stop AstraZeneca from turning its back on the north west.”

In February 2012 AstraZeneca announced 7,300 job cuts by the end of 2014 as part of a round of cost savings.