Hundreds of jobs to go in factory closure

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A DRUGS firm is to wind down its factory with the loss of more than 300 jobs.

Reckitt Benckiser (RB) has launched a 90-day consultation with staff at its site in Traynor Way in Peterlee.

The pharmaceutical company plans to transfer production to its sister plants in Hull and Nottingham, with the remaining 40 per cent of its workload to be sent overseas.

If the move goes ahead, the 321 roles at the factory, which has been in operation for a decade, will go by 2014.

Its production line makes over-the-counter remedies including Meltus, Remegel and Cuprofen, as well as personal care products mainly for the Scholl footcare range.

The firm, which has been based at the site since November, has said it will try and find jobs for the staff at its other sites. It also aims to bring in training specialists to support employees.

The factory, which has also previously traded as FSL, is not unionised, but it has said working groups of staff are helping with discussions with bosses.

At the time of the buyout, RB said it would be looking to “improve overall efficiency, and where relevant and desirable, find cost savings.”

A spokeswoman said: “Having now completed a full review of its health and personal care manufacturing capacity, the company believes that it has the capacity, technology and expertise within the wider RB manufacturing network to absorb both the current production at Peterlee and future expansion in its other existing production units, including those in Hull and Nottingham.

“RB believes this proposal will protect the long term future growth and profitability of the business.”

The company, which has around 25,000 employees, operations in more than 60 countries and sales in almost 200 countries, added its employees are at the “heart of the company’s success.”

Easington MP Grahame Morris said he will be making every effort to help the workforce.

He said: “This is a bitter blow at a time when the latest jobless figures show that North East has the highest unemployment rate in the UK at more than 10 per cent.

“It’s a personal tragedy for the workforce at Peterlee given RB’s revenue and performance has more than doubled over the last 10 years and has some globally popular brands.

“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the company to see if anything can be done to protect jobs at the Peterlee site.”

Other products made by RB include Finish, Lysol, Dettol, Vanish, Woolite, Durex, Calgon, Airwick, Harpic, Cillit Bang, Mortein, Veet, Nurofen, Clearasil, Strepsils and Gaviscon,