Important steps have been agreed that will support long term-employment in Ulverston after one of the town’s biggest employers revealed it would be closing its site earlier this year.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) revealed in February it would be closing its site in the town by 2025, with operations being transferred to German firm Sandoz.
During the transfer period, GSK’s manufacturing operations will continue, and there is no immediate change for employees on the site.
GSK has provided funds of £500,000 to support local businesses with job creation. All funds have now been granted and the initiatives have helped to create and secure 238 jobs.
Since the announcement, several productive meetings have taken place and good progress has been made, with the aim of providing clarity to employees and communities.
Key points agreed
Following a Taskforce meeting held today, the following points have been agreed:
1. GSK is pleased to confirm further support for Lakes BioScience. GSK will provide business development guidance and technical support for the organisation and share their expertise and networks with the company in order to bolster their efforts to secure a keystone contract. This will create opportunities for job creation in Ulverston and retain vital skills in the community.
2. GSK is progressing employee support proposals and has opened formal consultation – this is in addition to ongoing discussions with employee representatives. It is extremely rare for a company to open collective consultation so far in advance of any potential site closure – in this case, expected to be in 2025 – however, GSK has done so to provide transparency about the likely outcomes for employees and provide the necessary support. As part of this consultation, GSK is making significant progress to confirm plans in areas such as financial recognition, training and development and redundancy terms. Given the importance of employees hearing further details about this from GSK first, the company will be arranging briefings with staff in the coming weeks.
3. GSK has reconfirmed its previous commitment to donate land to South Lakeland District Council, including the creation of a masterplan with project management support to help understand the best options available for the land. The donation of £2m for the Ulverston sports centre has also been confirmed.
Following the meeting today, and agreement of these three points, the next step is for the Taskforce to confirm its priorities for community support.
Simon Fell, Barrow MP, and chairman of the GSK Taskforce said: “These commitments from GSK are most welcome. I am grateful for the way that GSK has continued to engage constructively with the Taskforce and Ministers in our efforts to secure a lasting legacy for Ulverston following February’s announcement.
“The support for Lakes BioScience paves the way for maintaining, and growing, life science jobs in Ulverston.
“The open engagement with existing staff to secure their terms and conditions shows a clear commitment to the welfare of their employees.
“And the public commitment to continuing with the land donation, financial support for the sports centre, and master planning for the site provides certainty and helps the Taskforce plan next steps.
“These are concrete and welcome steps. The Taskforce will now focus on two activities – agreeing a vision for the future of the site and surrounding area, and agreeing its priorities for community support.”
Phil Wilson, GSK site director said: “We welcome the ongoing constructive dialogue with the community and the opportunity, through the Taskforce, to share progress on support for our teams.
“While we are still early in the process, with no immediate changes for our teams, we are committed to transparent and open communication throughout.”