UK Union to Fight Closure of Sanofi UK Manufacturing Facility

Mar 21, 2012

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members, said it will fight the closure of Sanofi’s pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in northeast England. Last week, Sanofi announced the closure of the facility, which employs 450 people and makes solid dose oral drugs mainly for the UK and European markets.

“The way the workforce and the union were advised this site is to close is completely unacceptable,” said Unite National Officer Linda McCulloch in a Mar. 15, 2012, Unite statement. “There was no prior warning and no consultation. This would never have been allowed to happen in other EU countries such as France or Germany. The company would have been expected to work with the union to explore ways to keep the site open.”

Sanofi plans to close the Fawdon manufacturing center in Newcastle-upon-Tyne by mid-2015. The company cited adverse economic conditions, including generic-drug competition, which has contributed to a fall in demand and production volumes at the facility.

“Employees at the site have been notified of the proposal (Mar. 14th) and a process of collective consultation with employee representatives is now underway,” said Sanofi in a prepared statement. “We will support our people in every way we can to best manage the impact of this announcement and to help them through the consultation process and beyond.”

“Unite is going to fight this closure,” said McCulloch in the statement. “This company has benefited from the commitment of the local community for decades. We now expect the company to sit down with the union to explore every avenue possible to keep manufacturing at this site. The workforce at the company deserves better than being told at a moment’s notice that the site is to close and then being sent home. ‘We are appalled at the way this has been handled—there has been scant regard for the hard working and skilled workforce.”