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Sanofi unions continue building unity

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17 January, 2020The French multinational pharmaceutical market leader Sanofi employs IndustriALL members all around the world. The global union has facilitated network building activities amongst Sanofi workers’ unions for the past five years, and will continue to do so in 2020.

While conditions and industrial relations differ from Bangladesh to Brazil, from France to Japan, the common goal of the IndustriALL Sanofi Trade Union Network is to establish respectful and serious social dialogue at the global level with this employer.

Significant restructuring has recently been carried out by the company especially in Europe, with 1,200 office jobs cut in the continent, and in Japan. One major flashpoint currently for the global network is Sanofi’s operations in Bangladesh. The full network’s attention and solidarity is currently with the Bangladeshi Sanofi union, part of IndustriALL’s affiliate BCEF (Bangladesh Chemical, Energy & Allied Workers Federation). The union is mobilizing to persuade Sanofi not to downsize its operations in the country, and ensure that any changes are made through a strong social dialogue with the union. IndustriALL has raised its support for the Bangladeshi union’s demands directly with Sanofi.

Sanofi unions from throughout Asia

Istanbul. Turkey, 19-20 December 2019

In the fourth quarter of 2019, IndustriALL conducted a regional Sanofi trade union network meeting for Latin America, in São Paulo on 30-31 October, and a regional Sanofi trade union network meeting for Asia Pacific, in Istanbul on 19-20 December. The São Paulo event comprised an analysis and coordination meeting at the trade union headquarters of Químicos da Força, Fequimfar, followed by a day at the nearby Suzano factory of the company, giving the local management and the network the chance to meet and exchange with each other. The activity benefitted from the participation of the Chair of the Sanofi EWC, Aline Eysseric.

Sanofi union network at their meeting in Brazil

Suzano, Brazil, 30-31 October 2019

In Latin America, the Sanofi trade unions have a well-established network, with a chosen coordinator, Ademar José de Oliveira. Both IndustriALL affiliates, Fequimfar and CNQ-CUT are well organized at the different sites in Brazil, Campinas, São Paulo, Suzano and Guarulhos. Collective agreements at the plants have been developed through a relationship of trust dialogue, bringing provisions on healthcare, transport, childcare, profit-sharing and much more.

IndustriALL Director for the Pharmaceuticals Sector, Tom Grinter said:

“This is the example that we want to encourage throughout Sanofi’s operations. At the Suzano plant the union and management do not agree on everything, but there is a strong spirit of trust and common interest for the benefit of both the company and employees.”

The Latin American Sanofi Trade Union Network set their action plan to include: the coordinator actively continuing communication and information of the group, aiming for a national collective agreement for Brazil, each member union reiterating their support for an international relationship between the company and the global union, permanent commitment to the global network building effort, and sending a special solidarity greeting to the Asian Sanofi Trade Union Network meeting.

Inside the Suzano factory

31 October 2019, Suzano, Brazil

The Sanofi Asia Pacific Sanofi Trade Union Network also has a settled structure, chaired by brother Atsushi SAWAGURI of Japan. Different challenges face Sanofi workers in each country. In Pakistan and Bangladesh, the vast majority of the workforce is hired on temporary, precarious contracts. In Indonesia there are court proceedings between the parties, instead of harmonious industrial relations. In Japan there has been a steady reduction in jobs. In Turkey there is a very high workload for members, and an unfair tax burden on salaries.

The Asian colleagues committed to an action plan that included: strong information sharing and communication, facilitated by the network chair; standing in solidarity with colleagues in need, at present this means with the Bangladeshis who need to retain employment, rights and union recognition; hoping to establish contact with the Chinese Sanofi union via the Japanese colleagues; seeking the company’s recognition of the global trade union network.

IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan stated:

“There is a strong expectation of our group that the new Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson will not turn down the opportunity of a global social dialogue relationship with the global union network and IndustriALL.”