Jump to main content
IndustriALL logotype

Union busting at Novartis in India

12 May, 2021In the last few years, workers at Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis’ operations in India have been subjected to rights violations, where the local management refuses to engage with the long-established union.

IndustriALL Global Union, Swiss affiliate Unia, and Swiss campaigning organisation MultiWatch are joining forces to support the Indian union colleagues.

Since it was formed in 1984, the Novartis Employees Union (NEU) in India has enjoyed a constructive relationship with management.

In January 2017, the union and management agreed on a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS), whereby both parties commit to meet three times a year to solve grievances. Not only was this not followed; management unilaterally tried to change employment conditions instead of using the established collective bargaining process.

The MoS expired in December 2018 and the NEU submitted a new charter of demands in March 2019. But so far, management has refused to meet with the union to continue collective bargaining.

In their quest to bust the union, management manipulated the appraisal system to be used in a punitive way against union members and even as base for unfair dismissals. Management also informed newspapers about planned dismissals before informing workers and the union. Against the public position of the Novartis’ chairman of the board, management in India used the Covid-19 pandemic to enact mass dismissals.

The union says that they have tried all possible avenues to rebuild relations and trust, but that management continues to disregard agreed protocols and honour the written agreements and understandings.

In a joint letter with Swiss union Unia and human rights organization Multiwatch, IndustriALL calls on the CEO of Novartis, based in Switzerland to intervene and

“to work with the management in India and remind them of the global social commitments of the Novartis group. These violations are a serious black mark on the image of Novartis. However, with your commitment, the damage can be healed, and our organizations are ready to assist that process.”