Government committed to cushioning employees from Actavis branch closure - Cardona

Government consulting with Actavis and Malta Enterprise regarding re-absorption of 58 lost jobs following closure of local R&D branch

Mnister Chris Cardona with Actavis General Manager Sergio Vella  and Managing Director Patrick Cachia.
Mnister Chris Cardona with Actavis General Manager Sergio Vella and Managing Director Patrick Cachia.

Economy and Investment Minister Chris Cardona said that the government and Malta Enterprise is in discussions with Actavis over how best to cushion the effect of the company's decision to close its local research and development branch.

The decision was announced early last month, and discussions with government and Malta Enterprise swiftly followed, which former Finance Minister Tonio Fenech described as intervention to offer alternatives and government aid for the sake of the branch's 64 employees by the end of the year.

The decision followed in the way of the taking over of Actavis by American company Watson, the pharmaceutical company.

In a brief statement on Tuesday following a 10-minute discussion with the company's management and a tour of the company's production line, Cardona said that as things currently stand potentially 58 workers could lose their jobs.

He said that during the meeting the company informed the government that it is still consulting with Malta Enterprise "regarding the possibility that the potentially 58 workers that are affected by the decision would lose their jobs."

He said that government is holding talks with the company "to assure the fewest number of layoffs possible while ensuring that those that do actually lose their jobs are either re-absorbed by this company, a similar company, or offered alternative employment as soon as possible."

Cardona clarified that this re-absorption could take place thanks to incentives provided by Malta Enterprise as had taken place when a crisis arose in the manufacturing industry, but insisted that it is a " decision that ultimately needs to be taken by Actavis itself."

He said that these represent opportunities for these workers to be re-employed in different departments following re-training.

Actavis General Manager Sergio Vella said that the company is discussing ways to mitigate the effects of the branch closure.

"Obviously we cannot give any assurances to all employees that would be absorbed but at last we are seeing whether there is the option that, at least in some cases, workers can be integrated in other vacant positions in one of our sites."

"The final decision has not ben taken yet. We are still consulting, so we can make no commitments at this stage," he said. "But what is important is that discussions between management and workers are still taking place."

Cardona was accompanied by Vella and recently appointed Actavis Managing Director Patrick Cachia.