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Workers Across Europe Unite to Save Jobs at Merck Serono


Members of the Swiss trade union UNIA are fighting against the proposed site closure in Geneva of pharmaceuticals giant Merck Serono which threatens 1,500 jobs. Today the workers took their protest to the company headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, and conveyed the message to management that their threat of strike action is only postponed and can be activated if the consultation period that ends 4 June fails to reach real settlement. The clear expectation is for the multinational to admit the economic viability of the Geneva site and maintain the jobs through negotiating on the proposals submitted by the union.

The fight against closure of the Geneva site will determine the future of 2,500 jobs in Germany, and 450 in France, as the group plans massive relocation of its operations abroad. The widespread international anger at the company proposals are compounded by the excellent profit margins posted and the recent 20% increase in dividend payments to shareholders. The Merck group announced on 15 May profits of €152 million in the first quarter of 2012. The ICEM strongly supports UNIA’s calls for Merck to put “Workers before Shareholders!”

Photo: Unia/Julien Fabrègue

Today in Darmstadt, UNIA militants rallied together with 1,000 members of the German IGBCE at the Merck Serono site, in loud demonstrations with whistles and cowbells and dressed in white overalls. With protests continuing outside the Geneva UNIA delegation of Alessandro Pelizzari and Hubert Godinot, IGBCE representative and European Works Council vice-president Iris Gürtler met with Dietmar Eidens and Kai Beckmann of the general management, and the chairman of the board François Naef. Continued disappointing attitude of management now makes renewed conflict after 4 June a real possibility, as the Geneva workforce is even prepared to make concessions on conditions and pay the company looks likely to ignore them. 

A key proposal of Geneva Regional Secretary of UNIA, Alessandro Pelizzari, and the members, is for a centre for biotechnology research is maintained by the company in the region, protecting at least 300 of the jobs threatened with relocation abroad. goth skirt  

Messages of solidarity can be sent to [email protected].