Unite, Britain's biggest union, has accused AstraZeneca of creating a skills crisis in the north west by draining the region of highly skilled research and development jobs in the middle of an economic downturn.
The pharmaceutical company has today (18 March) announced plans to transfer 1,600 jobs from Cheshire to Cambridge by 2016. Alderley Park in Cheshire is the company's largest research and development site. AstraZeneca is also moving its head office, currently based in London, 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:
"AstraZeneca's decision to relocate over a thousand jobs to Cambridge is a massive blow for the north west. The company is creating a skills crisis for the local economy.
"After 40 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."
AstraZeneca has sites at Alderley Park in Cheshire, Macclesfield, Cambridge, Luton, Avlon near Bristol, Paddington in London, and Brixham in Devon.
In February 2012 AstraZeneca announced 7,300 job cuts by the end of 2014 as part of a round of cost savings.
Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.