Scotland business

Ethicon plant closure plans threaten 400 jobs in Livingston

Ethicon, Livingston Image copyright Google
Image caption About 400 people are employed at the Johnson & Johnson-owned Ethicon site in Livingston

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has announced plans to close its surgical suture manufacturing plant in Livingston, threatening about 400 jobs.

It is launching a consultation process with employees of its subsidiary Ethicon, which runs the site.

Johnson & Johnson's medical devices division (JJMD) said the move was part of a global restructuring effort announced in January 2016.

The restructuring is in part designed to streamline operations, it added.

The UK and Scottish governments said they were working with Johnson & Johnson to try to secure the future of the site.

The Livingston plant produces 5%-6% of JJMD's global output of surgical sutures. If the plant closure goes ahead, production will shift to much bigger sites in Texas, Brazil and Mexico, the company said.

In 2003, Ethicon shed 850 jobs after scaling back its facilities for manufacturing surgical sutures and needles in Edinburgh.

'Increasing agility'

In a statement, JJMD said: "JJMD initiated the consultation process with the regional and local works councils to propose our intent to close the Ethicon 'Kirkton' manufacturing site in Livingston, Scotland.

"This could potentially impact approximately 400 employees, pending the outcome of the consultation process.

"We have put forth these proposals in the interest of reducing complexity and increasing agility to better serve the needs of customers and patients in today's evolving healthcare marketplace."

It added: "We carefully assessed our options and recognize our proposed plans have the potential to significantly affect our employees, their families and the local community.

"We are committed to supporting them through the consultation process."

Image copyright Google
Image caption In January, Johnson & Johnson announced plans to cut 80 jobs at its LifeScan Scotland site in Inverness

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said Scottish ministers had been "engaging with Johnson & Johnson, along with our enterprise agencies, to explore every possible support for the business".

He said: "That work has been detailed and intensive, looking at what we can do both to help address immediate business challenges, and to maximise the site's future potential.

"Unfortunately despite our very best efforts, the company has decided to enter into consultation on possible site closure, which is hugely disappointing.

"Our focus now is on working with J&J to try to find a new owner for the site and on doing all we can to support the affected staff through this difficult period."

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "The UK government has been working closely with Johnson & Johnson and the Scottish government to find a solution that will protect as many jobs as possible.

"Ministers will continue to hold discussions to help secure the future of the site."

'Shocking news'

The union Unite described the possible closure as "shocking news" and said it would work hard to defend members' jobs throughout the consultation process.

West Lothian Council leader John McGinty said the local authority was "absolutely committed" to doing all it could to save jobs at the Livingston site.

He added: "We are seeking to meet with the company's senior management, as a matter of urgency, to discuss all and any alternatives to safeguard these jobs."

In January, Johnson & Johnson announced plans to cut 80 jobs from subsidiary LifeScan Scotland in Inverness, which develops and manufactures products for the treatment of diabetes.

It is continuing to look at a number of "strategic options" for the business, which include a possible sale or tie-up with another company.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites