280 jobs to go at MSD in Wicklow
MSD will cease operations at its facility in Rathdrum by the end of 2015.
Pharmaceutical company MSD is to close its facility in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow with a loss of 280 jobs.
The company, formerly Merck Sharp and Dohme, told staff this morning that it would cease operations at the plant by the end of 2015. However, no job losses are expected to happen before the end of next year.
The closure comes as part of an ongoing review of MSD's worldwide manufacturing capabilities, which has resulted in sites around the world being sold, closed or consolidated.
"Rathdrum has been a significant manufacturing site since 1961 and has a long history of operational excellence," site director John Smith,said. "The
proposal to cease operations is not a reflection of the site’s performance or the highly skilled people working there."
Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton said he had spoken to the company which has assured him of its commitment to Ireland.
Speaking from Houston, Texas, Mr Bruton said: “My first thoughts today are with the workers, their families and all the people of Rathdrum at this uncertain time.”
“Today’s announcement foresees no redundancies for almost two years. I am determined to ensure, working closely with the IDA and the company, that no stone is left unturned in the search for a replacement operator for this modern facility and its highly qualified workforce”.
Staff numbers at MSD's plant in Rathdrum have fallen in recent years from 400. The company previously sought job cuts there in 2011 as part of a competitiveness and cost efficiency programme that included energy costs, improvements in process productivity, maintenance and repair costs, and waste disposal costs.
The Co Wicklow operation, which opened in 1961, is involved in the development and supply of pharmaceutical ingredients. MSD acquired the Rathdrum facility in 2009 when it merged with Schering Plough.
The company also has operations in Ballydine in Tipperary, Carlow and Brinny in Cork, and will continue to employ more than 2,000 people in Ireland.
IDA Ireland chief executive Barry O'Leary said new investment for the sector was already underway, and the sector would continue to be a major employer here.
Fianna Fáil spokesman on jobs Dara Calleary called for an urgent response from the Government, describing the loss of the jobs as a "major blow" to both the local economy and the pharmaceutical company. “This is devastating news for the 280 workers and their families. MSD has been a major employer in Wicklow for decades and many of the staff members have invested years of hard work in this plant,” he said.
“The Minister also needs to address the impact of this closure on the pharmaceutical sector in Ireland. Through the work of successive governments supported by State employment agencies, Ireland has gained a strong international reputation as a hub for the pharmaceutical sector. Companies like MSD have provided valuable employment for highly-skilled workers in technology, manufacturing and research and development. MSD’s decision to radically down-scale its operation here is potentially a serious blow to the sector."