Britain’s biggest union Unite and the GMB today (Tuesday 6 May) stepped up their pressure for an urgent meeting with the business secretary, Vince Cable to press the case for jobs as speculation continues of Pfizer’s takeover of AstraZeneca.
Warning that prime minister David Cameron’s enthusiasm for the deal could leave the UK’s manufacturing strategy in tatters, the unions urged the government to act in the national interest.
The call comes as speculation mounts that US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is set to make a hostile bid for AstraZeneca after its £63 billion takeover offer was spurned.
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: "Unite and the GMB have stepped up their calls for an urgent meeting with Vince Cable to press the case for jobs.
“The workforce and the unions have acted in a responsible manner and shown remarkable patience, but that is now wearing thin. Ed Miliband's sensible intervention at the weekend for a national interest test should be acted on, neither the German or the French governments would be simply waving through a takeover on this scale.
"AstraZeneca is a key player in the UK's advanced manufacturing sector and as such is strategically important to the UK. Yet David Cameron and George Osborne seem comfortable waving the deal through, leaving any manufacturing strategy in tatters. Cameron says he has assurances on jobs and the future of the UK plants and we would like to know what they are.
"Smelling a quick profit, City institutions are now also pressing AstraZeneca to sit down and agree a deal with Pfizer. The companies should be talking to their workforces, as they would have to do in other countries before any deal goes through.”
Tony Burke went on to that the both trade unions would welcome the opportunity to give evidence to House of Commons House Of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, adding:
"We understand that Adrian Bailey MP, chair of the House Of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee is looking to call AstraZeneca and Pfizer before his committee. Both Unite and the GMB would welcome the opportunity to give evidence and explore his idea of a legally binding agreement on jobs and the future of the Astra Zeneca in the UK.
"We would also welcome an opportunity to meet with the Commons Science and Technology Committee, chaired by Labour MP Andrew Miller, which is proposing holding a parliamentary inquiry into the potential takeover and its impact on research and development in Britain.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869 or Ciaran Naidoo on 020 3371 2059 or 07768 931315.
Notes to editors
• Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.