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Reprieve for GSK workers as NY plant closure is cancelled

Published on 13/04/10 at 03:24pm

The jobs of up to 210 workers at a GlaxoSmithKline plant in New York, USA, have been saved after the drugmaker reversed a decision to close the facility.

The Oak Hill plant manufactures personal care products and was acquired by GSK as part of its purchase of Stiefel Laboratories last year.  The site has been an employer in Durham area of New York since the 1940s.

Last November the drugmaker earmarked the facility for closure as part of its wide-ranging cost-reduction programme, saying that all production would be transferred to other facilities in the GSK group. At the time the company said that the Oak Hill plant was running well below capacity.

In a volte-face which comes after months of intense lobbying by state and local officials, GSK has decided instead to invest $56 million in updating it and will transfer production of some of its oral care product line, including Aquafresh and Sensodyne brand toothpastes.

Stiefel had also been investing in the plant ahead of its acquisition with $5 million in upgrades, and since announcing the closure state agencies, including the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, have said they will contribute up to $6.7 million in upgrade funding.

The SERDA has promised $5 million for energy-efficiency improvements at the plant, according to a report in the Albany Business Review, while the state has also offered GSK sales tax relief.

The reprieve for Oak Hill's workers comes at a price, however, as GSK has now said it will shut down a consumer healthcare manufacturing plant in Clifton, New Jersey, that had stood to gain some of the workload formerly carried out by the New York unit.

Staff from both locations will be able to apply for jobs at Oak Hill, which will be set up as a centre of excellence for GSK in oral care products manufacturing.