1,200+ fired as Philip Morris factory closes

More than 1,200 people will lose their jobs when cigarette maker Philip Morris closes its Bergen op Zoom factory per October 1.

The company stated in a press release that the closure could affect the 1,371 people who work in the factory at present. Staff were asked to gather in a tent outside the factory this morning to hear the sad news. Some 140 people will be kept on payroll, in sales and marketing positions.

Philip Morris has suffered dwindling sales in Europe and export to non EU countries in recent times. The company says this is probably due to the increased taxes on tobacco. Drago Azinovic, the Director of the company's Europe operations is quoted in a press release as saying that the rigorous fiscal and regulatory  policies are having negative effects and creating fertile soil for criminal organisations that operate in illegal cigarette trade."

The mass layoffs come as a heavy blow for West Brabant; Philip Morris is the region's largest employer. "We have been part of the Berg op Zoom community for a long time and we are aware of the impact that our intended decision could have on the workers, their surroundings and the Berg community," Manager  Petr Karla said in the release.

Philip Morris produces the Marlboro, L&M and Chesterfield cigarette brands.