Pfizer unemployment riser

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has announced today it will conduct the “biggest ever vaccine distribution campaign” to distribute an experimental COVID-19 vaccine and could gain $3.5 billion US dollars in 2021.

This comes after the confirmation by Pfizer on Tuesday that it will close its Bentley factory and cut 470 jobs in Perth in the next three years.

Pfizer Bentley Entrance. Photo: Cain Andrews

Some workers from its Bentley factory will be re-deployed and can apply for positions elsewhere in the company, but an undisclosed number of jobs will be lost.

City of Canning Deputy Mayor Jesse Jacobs says he thinks the situation is “bullshit.”

“I think it is part of a global repositioning of the company,” he says.

A Pfizer spokesperson says the move is designed to maintain the company’s viability in Australia.

“Pfizer recently conducted a thorough evaluation of its global manufacturing site network design,” the spokesperson says.

“We conducted a portfolio prioritisation study to ensure its overall production capacity is most effectively utilised, relative to projected product demands across all locations.”

Video: Cain Andrews

Pfizer, one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers in the world, avoided $94 million in Australian taxes in 2018, according to an Oxfam report.

Mr Jacobs says the announcement is unfortunate.

“Perth isn’t the centre of the world, the Bentley site is probably a tax offset for them,” Mr Jacobs says.

“Jobseeker has delayed the pain, but we have been bracing for bad news.

“This is the worst economic downturn since the black plague in the 14th century.”

Pfizer Bentley. Photo: Cain Andrews

Unions WA industrial officer Tim Dymond says for the sake of workers and their families, he hopes that redeployment is quick, widespread and fair.

“Australia and WA need to sustain and expand our manufacturing capacity, particularly for health- related products,” Dr Dymond says.

“If multi-national pharmaceutical corporations are not prepared to meet our needs, then governments [must] review their concessions and interventions to ensure the capacity needed.”

Mr Jacobs says the loss of 470 jobs is devastating but the local government’s hands are tied.

“It is bad for Bentley, the City of Canning, Perth and Australia,” he says.