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Workers condemn Sanofi decision to leave Bangladesh

22 October, 2019IndustriALL Global Union and its affiliate the Bangladesh Chemical, Energy & Allied Workers Federation (BCEF) are calling on French pharmaceutical company Sanofi to reconsider its decision to leave Bangladesh.

Workers urged Sanofi to maintain its operations in Bangladesh in the interests of the company, for the thousands of employees, and for the population of Bangladesh who need access to quality pharmaceuticals.

The French drug maker recently announced its decision to leave Bangladesh for strategic reasons, by selling its 54.64 per cent share. It was announced that it may take between 12 and 18 months for Sanofi to start the process of selling its stake to a buyer. The remaining 45.36 per cent stake is owned by state-owned Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation.

The Sanofi production plant, which was established in 1966, has made considerable earnings and has gained a good reputation for the quality of its products and the expertise and dedication of its workforce. 

Sanofi’s decision has shocked the more than 1,100 workers, who came out to protest against the move and called on the company not proceed with the sale as they fear job losses. To highlight workers’ concerns and demand that the company hold meaningful dialogue with the union to find a suitable solution, on 19 October 2019, Sanofi Bangladesh Ltd Workers Union and the BCEF held a human chain demonstration in front of National Press Club in Dhaka.

Sanofi workers urged Sanofi not to shut down or sell the profit-making subsidiary, since its operation is in the greater interest of the company and the working people of Sanofi in Bangladesh. They are concerned that if the company quits the country, it would severely hamper the workers’ jobs and their dependent family members and society at large. There is a great concern that 170 million Bangladeshis would seriously struggle to access quality drugs.

In his letter to the chief executive officer of Sanofi, Valter Sanches, general secretary of IndustriALL said:

“We truly expect and demand that Sanofi central management intervene at its subsidiary Sanofi Bangladesh to ensure that through discussions between the company, the unions, and the government, an acceptable solution to all the parties concerned is found soon.”

Headquartered in Paris, France, Sanofi is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies with more than 110,000 workers worldwide.