Five questions answered on further job losses at AstraZeneca

UK pharma firm cuts a further 2,300 jobs globally.

UK pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has announced further job losses on top of the ones it announced at the beginning of the week. We answer five questions on the AstraZeneca job losses.

How many job losses has AstraZeneca announced this week?

On Monday the company announced around 2,300 job losses world wide - around 700 from the UK. Today it has announced a further 2,300 jobs will be lost globally.

Why is the company axing these jobs?

AstraZeneca is in the process of restructuring its business and has outlined a new strategy that has resulted in these job losses. One of the big aspects of its UK restructuring is closing down its London office and opening a new headquarters in Cambridge.

Research and development work will no longer be carried out at its Alderley Park, Cheshire facility, with approximately 1,600 roles being relocated to Cambridge.

How much is the company investing in Cambridge?

The company is investing £330m ($500m) to build a new headquarters in Cambridge and creating 2,000 jobs in the area.

What other problems do AstraZeneca face?

The company is struggling with a lack of drug developments in the pipeline and patents of blockbuster drugs that are due to expire.

Today it announced it will concentrate on developing drugs to combat respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity, heart disease and cancer treatments.

What has AstraZeneca said in regards to its new strategy?

In a press statement Chief Executive Officer, Pascal Soriot said: “We are making an unambiguous commitment to concentrate our efforts and resources on our priority growth platforms and our priority pipeline projects.

“As we focus, accelerate and transform our business we know that our success will ultimately be measured by the quality of execution. I’m confident that we have set out on the right path to return to growth and achieve scientific leadership, and I’m equally confident that our people possess the talent, determination and focus to deliver for patients as well as our shareholders.”

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

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Who is responsible for an austerity violating human rights? Look to New Labour

Labour's record had started to improve under Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. 

The UN has made it clear the Government’s austerity programme breaches human rights. This is not because of spending cuts - it is because because those spending cuts target women and disadvantaged groups, particularly disabled people and asylum seekers.

The degree of injustice is staggering. The Coalition Government used a combination of tax increases and benefit cuts to reduce the net income of the poorest tenth of families by 9 per cent. The cuts faced by disabled people are even more extreme. For instance, more than half a million people have lost social care in England (a cut of over 30 per cent). Asylum seekers are now deprived of basic services.

The injustice is also extremely regional, with the deepest cuts falling on Labour heartlands. Today’s austerity comes after decades of decline and neglect by Westminster. Two places that will be most harmed by the next round of cuts are Blackpool (pictured) and Blackburn. These are also places where Labour saw its voters turn to UKIP in 2015, and where the Leave vote was strong.

Unscrupulous leaders don’t confront real problems, instead they offer people scapegoats. Today’s scapegoats are immigrants, asylum seekers, people from ethnic minorities and disabled people. It takes real courage, the kind of courage the late MP Jo Cox showed, not to appease this prejudice, but to challenge it.

The harm caused by austerity is no surprise to Labour MPs. The Centre for Welfare Reform, and many others, have been publishing reports describing the severity and unfairness of the cuts since 2010. Yet, during the Coalition Government, it felt as if Labour’s desire to appear "responsible" led  Labour to distance itself from disadvantaged groups. This austerity-lite strategy was an electoral disaster.

Even more worrying, many of the policies criticised by the UN were created by New Labour or supported by Labour in opposition. The loathed Work Capability Assessment, which is now linked to an increase in suicides, was first developed under New Labour. Only a minority of Labour MPs voted against many of the Government’s so-called "welfare reforms". 

Recently things appeared to improve. For instance, John McDonnell, always an effective ally of disabled people, had begun to take the Government to task for its attacks on the income’s of disabled people. Not only did the media get interested, but even some Tories started to rebel. This is what moral leadership looks like.

Now it looks like Labour is going to lose the plot again. Certainly, to be electable, Labour needs coherent policies, good communication and a degree of self-discipline. But more than this Labour needs to be worth voting for. Without a clear commitment to justice and the courage to speak out on behalf of those most disadvantaged, then Labour is worthless. Its support will disappear, either to the extreme Right or to parties that are prepared to defend human rights.

Dr Simon Duffy is the director of the Centre for Welfare Reform