Ethicon denies speculation over Limerick job losses

 Biopharmaceutical company only opened in 2014

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

Ethicon denies speculation over Limerick job losses

Dan Wildman, Ethicon, when investment was announced in Limerick

ETHICON Biosurgery has this Wednesday denied mounting speculation of job losses at its factory in Plassey.

Several sources have indicated to the Limerick Leader the majority of the 60 staff currently in place at the biopharmaceutical firm are set to be laid off from the plant – just two years after it opened in the National Technology Park.

But when this was put to Ethicon, surprise was expressed, with a spokesperson insisting it is “business as usual” and saying there were “absolutely no job losses at Ethicon”.

It is understood many of these staff have been told that if they want to remain in employment, they should reapply for positions in Vistakon, which alongside Ethicon is part of the Johnson and Johnson family (J&J) of companies, with a major plant next door. When this was put to the company, a spokesperson said a facility for staff to transfer to companies within J&J is available to all workers – and encouraged.

The spokesperson added contractors “come and go” from the facility, but these are not permanent Ethicon staff.

Ethicon Biosurgery only unveiled plans to invest in Limerick in April 2014, with a new 60,000 square foot facility being built to manufacture a product which aids the stopping of bleeding during surgery.

The company said at the time the project would create 270 permanent jobs, and 150 temporary construction roles.

As of now, however, just 60 of these have been filled, 40 of whom are full time and the remainder temporary.

”Ethicon is doing a review at the moment. It does seem to be down to a product the firm has decided not to proceed with. This can happen for a variety of reasons,” a source familiar with the workings of the company said.

They added that it was anticipated an announcement on the company was due in early April.

Limerick Chamber chief executive Dr James Ring expressed sadness at the potential job cuts, saying: “There was great hope around it, but unfortunately not every company can be successful. I want to make it clear the Chamber is here to help the Ethicon staff explore new opportunities through upskilling, and training, and pointing them in the right direction”.

When Ethicon announced its investment in the city in 2014, Dan Wildman, its worldwide president was in attendance, alongside Jobs Minister Richard Bruton and Limerick Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

At the time, Mr Wildman said: “The decision to manufacture Everrest Sealant Matrix in Ireland was due to the unique clustering of medical device manufacturing, automation and biomanufacturing skillsets across the Johnson & Johnson companies already operating in Ireland.”

The IDA declined to comment.