10,000 face Glaxo's axe at Wellcome
At the height of the battle, trustees of the Wellcome Trust, which clinched Glaxo's victory by pledging its 40 per cent stake to the bid, received letters containing unidentified chemicals purporting to come from Wellcome employees threatened with redundancy.
Although the terms are believed to be generous and voluntary, fears of compulsory lay-offs are running high. The 500 research scientists at the former Wellcome research and development centre at Beckenham in Kent have been told they face face imminent removal to Glaxo's new pounds 650m facility at Stevenage in Hertfordshire. City analysts believe that around 10,000 jobs could be at risk as Glaxo removes overlaps and slashes costs at the combined group, taking the eventual redundancy bill to over pounds 800m.
Paul Talbot, national officer of MSF, the main union involved, said yesterday that worries among the 1,600 staff at Beckenham had been heightened by management's denial of a 5 June memo warning that research would be moving to Hertfordshire "as rapidly as possible" - in months rather than years. "It really is a very, very difficult situation there at the moment and there is a great deal of concern at what's happening."
He added: "As far as we know, nobody has been sacked or made redundant, but clearly there is a great deal of concern about these moves."
A Glaxo Wellcome representative yesterday admitted that a memo had gone out to Beckenham staff, but claimed it did not represent official policy. The final decision was in the hands of the research and development task force, chaired by Jim Niedel, Glaxo's research and development director, she said.
"A decision hasn't been taken by the integration executive on the location of research and development in the merged company. A decision will be announced as soon as a conclusion has been reached."
She also confirmed that there had been a general warning of redundancy in early May. Both the old Glaxo and the former Wellcome separation terms are on offer, with volunteers being offered the most suitable, depending on age and length of service. She emphasised, however, that no personal redundancy notices had been issued.
Mr Talbot, however, raised questions about the legal status of the general warning, which had been sent out without the usual involvement of the Department of Employment and consultation with the unions.
The latest developments are the most significant among moves to integrate the two companies since the bid went unconditional in March. Glaxo Wellcome has already announced that the closure of Wellcome's old headquarters in London's Euston Road will take place in September. It has also said Wellcome's operations head office will move in with Glaxo, which is based at Stockley Park, near Heathrow Airport, while UK distribution operations will be combined at Crewe, a former Wellcome site. But decisions about the bigger operations have yet to be taken. In all, Wellcome employed close to 4,500 people in the UK, while Glaxo's payroll totalled nearly 11,000.
Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
World news in pictures
Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
Oklahoma tornado latest: Obama pledges support for 'as long as it takes' to rebuild the suburb of Moore
- 1 'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
- 2 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 3 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
- 4 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
- 5 'It was just like the movie Twister': Man survives Oklahoma tornado by taking refuge in horse stall
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
iJobs Money & Business
£850 - £1000 per day: Orgtel: Programme Change Manager - Banking - London - £8...
£180 - £230 per day: Orgtel: Operations Analyst - Leading Bank in the City of ...
£500 per day: Orgtel: A top tier banking client urgently requires Finance Busi...
£425 - £550 per day: Orgtel: Senior Finance Project Manager - £550 - Bristol -...