A TASK force is to be set up to try and replace some of the hundreds of jobs that will be lost following the decision by Johnson and Johnson to close its Cashel manufacturing plant.
The news that the company is to completely withdraw from making medical stents after a collapse in profits, stunned workers at the Alza/Cordis plant when the announcement was made on Wednesday.
Many of the 133 permanent and 100 part-time staff who will lose their jobs, had re-located especially to Cashel and Tipperary when the facility opened in December 2008. At the time, it was expected the plant would provide some 450 high quality jobs in making drug eluting stents, used for treating patients suffering from coronary artery diseases.
The closure will have a seismic effect on the wider Cashel and Tipperary economy, with knock-on effects in local retail and services. Alza had been a generous sponsor in the area.
Chairperson of South Tipperary County Council Dr Sean McCarthy said an inter-agency task force will be set up to try and replace some of the lost jobs. It’s understood some of the employees will be re-deployed within the company though details on this are still unclear. “We intend to arrange a meeting of the County Development Inter Agency Working Group, Enterprise Ireland, IDA, Fas, County Enterprise, Tipperary Institute and the County Council, to see what can be done,” said Cllr McCarthy.
A statement by Johnson and Johnson on Wednesday said they would no longer pursue the development of the NEVO Sirolimus-Eluting Coronary Stent in order to focus on other cardiovascular therapies where significant patient need exists. “Due to evolving market dynamics in the drug-eluting stent (DES) business, we see greater opportunities to benefit patients and grow our business in other areas of the cardiovascular device market,” said Seth Fischer, Company Group Chair and Worldwide Chairman, Cordis Corporation.
Many of the workers at the state-of-the-art plant, were too stunned and shocked by the news to comment to local media. Politicians from across the political divide have called on the government to act urgently.
Tom Hayes TD said: “I am shocked by today’s news that 133 permanent jobs and up to 100 part-time jobs are to be lost this year in Cashel, due to the decision by Johnson and Johnson to cease manufacturing coronary stents worldwide. The plant in Cashel is solely dedicated to manufacturing stents and this business decision will have a serious impact on the lives of many people in Cashel.
“I have today clarified with the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Burton, that he has made every effort to facilitate the retention of these jobs. However, because the decision was taken at a global level to re-focus manufacturing, any moves by the Government would not have had any impact on the profit-related decision.”
“I feel enormous sympathy for the affected workers who will be left devastated by today’s news. To lose your job is a terrible blow and the resulting uncertainty and financial pressure is very difficult for families to deal with. The company had invested hugely in the plant in Cashel and it is very disappointing to see this development.
“Cordis, and its parent company, Johnson and Johnson, have come to this decision as a result of a strategic move to wind down the manufacturing of stents. The decision in no way reflects upon the management and staff in Cashel, whose work has always been exemplary and whose commitment to their employer has always been remarked upon.
“I intend to work with Cordis locally, and Johnson and Johnson nationally, to explore the options for the Cashel manufacturing plant, and for the re-deployment of those affected by the decision today. Cashel cannot afford to lose so many jobs and I will be doing everything I can to ensure that current employees are looked after. I will also work to see that the site is used to best effect; Cashel is extremely well-served by national roads and is an excellent location for manufacturing, and I believe that this site can be and must be used for job creation.
Deputy Mattie McGrath said it will be devastating for local families. “This is a terrible blow for Cashel, particularly after the high point of last month with the Queen’s visit to the town,” he said.
“I am anxious to determine why the Cashel site was selected for closure and what we need to do in the area to retain and attract employment in Cashel,” he said.
“I will make every effort to help those who may be affected by job losses in terms of accessing re-training opportunities and other support services,’ he added.
Senator Denis Landy said: “My thoughts first and foremost today are with those workers who are to lose their jobs. The commitment by the company that they are to examine other options for the Cashel site is some silver lining to what is a very dark cloud, but in reality, this closure will come as bitter blow to these loyal employees and their families.
These job losses are another indication of the level to which we as an economy lost competitiveness under 13 years of Fianna Fail economic misrule and highlights the urgency that is required by the Labour/ FG Government in this regard.
I would urge the various state agencies, including Fas to engage with the workers and with the local community and to identify retraining and reskilling opportunities for those who are to be made redundant.
The IDA should also be looking for replacement industries for the area that can draw on the high level of expertise that has been built up in the area.”