Unions look overseas for help to scupper AstraZeneca bid


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The Independent Online

British unions have opened a new front in the US as they step up their campaign to wreck Pfizer’s tilt at AstraZeneca.

Critics of the takeover, who fear the UK cancer and diabetes drugs group could be ruined by Pfizer are furious that the Coalition has not done more to protect a national champion.

However, several senior US Senators are on the warpath, as under the takeover plan Pfizer would relocate its tax base from the US to the UK.

Leaders of Unite, Britain’s biggest union, contacted their US counterparts late last week to pass information on job loss fears and the strength of opposition to the proposed deal among AstraZeneca’s workforce.

The US unions will use that information to ramp up their lobbying efforts in  Washington this week.

Tony Burke, an assistant general secretary at Unite, told The Independent: “We’ve briefed US Steelworkers, our partner union, and they’ve got all of our briefing papers. They’re now feeding this into democrat senators.”

Mr Burke was in talks with Swedish unions in Stockholm at the weekend. This week, union leaders will hold a briefing session with AstraZeneca shop stewards.

Meanwhile competition lawyers warned at the weekend that attempts to apply a public interest test to the takeover would run into serious difficulties with the European Commission.

The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has said he would “not rule out intervention”.