Drug giant Merck, one of the largest life science industry employers in the Triangle, cut jobs at its big vaccine manufacturing plant in Durham this week.

A company spokesperson confirmed to WRAL that the cuts were made, and all affected contractors.

“No full-time Merck employees were affected,” said Cheznee Johnson of Merck Global Communications.

“The reduction of contract positions at the Durham facility is part of Merck’s ongoing consolidation and is representative of the company’s global initiative to sharpen its commercial and R&D focus and improve overall operational effectiveness.”

Johnson would not say how many contractors were cut.

According to information provided to WRAL, dozens of workers were affected.

“The Durham site will continue to manufacture the volume needed to meet customers’ needs,” Johnson added.

The job cuts are the latest in a series of labor force reductions among Triangle area life science employers, including some 900 at GlaxoSmithKline. Salix Pharmaceuticals cut a third of its work force when the company was acquired. And Hospira is closing a production plant in Johnston County.

Merck employs some 1,400 people at the plant, according to the 2014 Triangle Business Journal Book of Lists.

“Vaccines are one of the greatest public health success stories in history, and Merck has played its part in that story,” she said. “We remain dedicated to the complex business of researching and producing vaccines.”

Merck cut some 8,500 jobs in 2013 and several hundred more jobs last year.