The Malta Independent 24 January 2020, Friday

Arrow Pharma to cut Malta packaging operation by 50%

Malta Independent Saturday, 23 November 2013, 10:05 Last update: about 7 years ago

Arrow Pharma, which specialises in the manufacture of first-class generic pharmaceuticals for international markets, is planning to cut its packaging work by 50% while keeping its current production volumes.  This means that around 20 workers will be affected. The company’s management has started approaching employees with regard to the difficulties the packaging section is facing and the union will be meeting employees next week.

Speaking to The Malta Independent, Union Haddiema Maghqudin (UHM) president Jesmond Bonello would not confirm any layoffs so far but said that together with the UHM section secretary Ivan Castillo and the committee representing employees, he met the CEO and HR manager at Arrow Pharma yesterday, to discuss the company’s downsizing plan.The exercise is intended to cut costs while exporting pharmaceuticals in more voluminous containers.

So far, the company has been importing small empty jars and containers, filling them with the pharmaceuticals produced locally and exporting them.

While a percentage of this time-consuming task will remain, the company is considering exporting some of its items in larger containers.

Mr Bonello explained that there are 43 individuals working at the packaging section and plans must be made for the union to safeguard their interests.

As a result, UHM will be meeting the company again in January after it receives direction from the mother company. The short term situation, and therefore the future of the packaging section employees, will be discussed as will the long term scenario.

Mr Bonello confirmed that the company has mentioned redundancies but the union is doing its best to minimise these. It is feared that while the company is saying inefficiencies in packaging systems are the problem, there may be issues in other sections. For this reason, the union will be discussing the company’s practices to see to their improvement in the long term. It is important that the Malta factory remains competitive vis-à-vis other factories of the same company in Serbia and Bulgaria, among others.

Asked whether the company is considering lay-offs or has made people in other sections redundant over the past days, Mr Bonello said that while there may have been definite contracts which were not extended, the union is not informed of any redundancies so far.

Yesterday, this newspaper reported the situation at Arrow and that an urgent meeting was to take place. However since the company is considering relocating the packaging section the future of the workers is still bleak. The move is one that the company considered taking in the past but was convinced otherwise.

The UHM said that it will be working with the company for an internal solution and is hoping that workers will be integrated within the same company or a sister company.

Arrow Pharma started in Malta in 2003 with 15 employees.

In May 2011, it announced it was to invest €3.3 million in an extension of its premises. The company, which then employed some 250 people, was to increase its workforce to over 300 with the expansion of its laboratory and office space.

In December 2009 it became part of the Watson Group, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the US, which has grown rapidly since its inception 26 years ago.

Arrow Pharma exports to the largest pharmaceutical market in the world – the US, as well as to the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Canada. It has commercial operations in many of the world’s established and emerging international markets.

Late last year, Watson Group merged with Actavis and the name was changed to Actavis Inc.

The news of the Arrow Pharma layoffs comes after last March Actavis announced that as part of its global restructuring process alongside its amalgamation, it was to close down its research and development department in Bulebel, affecting 62 employees. The merger was the reason behind this decision and Actavis had said the rest of its 1,000-strong workforce was not to be affected. To date, there has been no news that more Actavis employees will lose their job.

 
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