GSK Worthing employee reveals devastation inside redundancy meeting: 'It felt like the world was about to end'

The GSK site in Worthing
The GSK site in Worthing

An employee at Worthing’s GlaxoSmithKline has said they are ‘in shock, angry and upset’ at the announcement that hundreds of jobs could be cut.

On Tuesday (July 30) , staff at the Southdown View Way site were called to a meeting to be told some of the pharmaceutical giant's manufacturing was to be transferred out of the town, resulting in redundancies.

One of the employees affected said there was a ‘sombre mood in the air’ on the morning of the meeting.

“On the morning of the announcement we all got told we would be sent home early after we’d heard the news,” they said.

“We all knew something bad was going to happen – vending machines were on free vend all morning and the canteen was free for everyone at lunch, so we knew they were softening the blow for something.

“The last time we’d got called to anything like this was in 2017 when we were told we were losing lots of jobs so we feared the worst.”

Read as the news broke here: GSK Worthing: Redundancies planned among 673 employees

In the meeting, employees were told GSK had reviewed its global antibiotics manufacturing operations and concluded it was ‘no longer cost competitive’ to manufacture ingredients for sterile antibiotics and the injectable Augmentin product in Worthing.

Soon after, reports from several GSK employees said around 200 permanent employees were set to be made redundant, plus around 50 temporary employees, by the end of 2020.

The employee who spoke to the Herald said there had been speculation before the announcement, particularly after plans for similar numbers of redundancies were revealed in 2017.
“There was lots of speculation before it happened,” they said.

“We’d heard rumours that they had abandoned plans to continue with the sterile facility which had only just finished being built – some even thought there would be a full site closure but we all lived in hope that they’d invested way too much time and money into GSK Worthing for this to happen.

“As soon as I’d heard the news I knew instantly I’d be one of the 250 jobs to go.

“It felt like the world was about to end, being single and having just taken out a new mortgage I am so worried about the uncertainty of my future now. I’ve worked there for 18 years, starting with no real qualifications and working my way up. It’s all I’ve ever known with a lot of people being in the same boat.

“I’m still in shock and still so angry and upset and worried for the future. GSK have been an amazing company to work for, they really look after you with competitive salary bonuses share plans healthcare scheme etc. and for someone like me who’s never wanted to leave and thought I had my whole future planned out it’s a really scary feeling knowing I’m losing it all.”

As a major private employer in the town, the concerned staff member added the GSK cuts would have a ‘massive effect’ on Worthing and everyone affected.

Trade union Unite condemned the decision: GSK Worthing redundancies: Announcement 'totally out of the blue', says trade union