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Pharmaceutical Unions Boost Networking

21 November, 2013Some 100 union representatives from 11 countries attending IndustriALL’s Global Pharmaceutical Unions’ Network Meeting on November 15-16, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan decided to boost union networking in pharmaceutical industry at sectoral and company level.

Met upon invitation by IndustriALL Global Union’s Japanese Affiliates in the chemical and energy sector (IndustriALL-JAF), the meeting received reports from Assistant Director of Economic Affairs Division Health Policy Bureau from Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour & Welfare and Managing Director of Japanese Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association about the perspective of the Japanese pharmaceutical industry.

The meeting deeply discussed global developments and challenges in the sector. The participants focused on sectorial tendencies, major actors, transition from brands to generic drugs, possible impacts of upcoming patent expirations, mergers, acquisitions and general restructuring in the sector with possible effects on employment, research and development trends, healthcare systems and its relationship with employment, social dimension of the sector and corporate social responsibility activities.

Sustainability and trade union policy in pharmaceutical industry was widely discussed by the participants with a special attention on “Access to Medicine”. The meeting noted that expenditure on medicines accounts for a major proportion of health costs in developing countries, and this means that access to treatment is heavily dependent on the availability of affordable medicines. The participants agreed that for sustainability of the sectors there should not be destruction over the jobs, and continuous improvement access to health care by enabling development of social security systems. At the end, it was decided that there should be a joint paper on sustainability in pharmaceutical industry with trade union point of view at global scale.

Union Organizing in the sector with a special attention on white collars and agents was among the discussion items. Employment structure in the sector was analyzed with specific country examples. The participants shared their difficulties in union organizing while success stories were applauded by the participants. The meeting promised to provide support and solidarity to the reported cases in South Korea, Philippines and Turkey.

The pharmaceutical unions debated to use of international tools such as trade union networks and global framework agreements with some principles and targets. The meeting welcomed the intention of Japanese Takeda Pharmaceutical Union to create a global network among the unions organizing the company’s employees throughout the world. Furthermore the participants decided to develop networking among the unions organizing subsidiaries of French-based Sanofi Aventis. The meeting also underlined importance of continuation of sector-based networking among the pharmaceutical unions.

The meeting elected Masato Shinohara, President of Takeda Pharmaceutical Union which is affiliated with UA Zensen from Japan, as Chairman of the Network while Alexandra Krieger of IG BCE of Germany as Vice-Chairperson.

“The Tokyo meeting was so encouraging and promising” said Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union. “We will create a genuine union power in the global pharmaceutical industry through our strong networks as decided by our affiliates”.