U.K. officials fault Pfizer in Sandwich closure

Is Pfizer ($PFE) doing enough to help laid-off workers find new jobs? Locals in Sandwich, England, say no. The company is laying off people too quickly for government assistance efforts to work, officials tell the BBC. Meanwhile, others say the company is moving too slowly with its own assistance.

The 2,400-worker site has been slated for closure since last year as part of the company's global restructuring and layoffs. At the time the closure was announced, Pfizer pledged to work with locals and workers to help people find new jobs and aid the local community in recovering from the loss of a major employer.

Of course, closures, job losses and outplacements are always contentious things. It would be shocking if everyone involved were happy with Pfizer's performance. The company tells the BBC that it's in talks with some contract research organizations to help save some jobs, and it's holding career fairs and offering outplacement services to employees.

Community efforts are centering on ways to prevent a brain drain. Officials are trying to recruit private investors to help fund start-ups staffed by ex-Pfizerites, for instance. But employees losing their jobs--or about to lose them--are already leaving the area, one Pfizer scientist told the BBC. "What we've got is a time problem. ...Pfizer is exiting or creating redundancies too quickly for us to be able to secure that finance... from private sector companies," adds local MP Laura Sandys.

If it's any consolation to Pfizer, disgruntled employees are criticizing the politicians, too. "They are far too slow," one scientist said. "People have already accepted offers abroad and everybody knows it's over."

- read the BBC news