UpdateSwiss union persists with suit over Merck plant closures

19 June 2012 19:40  [Source: ICIS news]

(updates with comments from Swiss labour union)

LONDON (ICIS)--A Swiss labour union will continue to press its lawsuit against German specialty chemicals and pharmaceuticals firm Merck KGaA over planned job cuts and plant closures in Geneva, it said on Tuesday.

Angestellte Schweiz said that Merck’s rejection of proposals - by the company’s workers council and unions - to avoid the closures of Merck Serono’s pharmaceuticals sites in Geneva and nearby Coinsins was not acceptable.

Merck’s rejection reinforced the union's stance to take the company to court for alleged violations of Swiss labour laws over the planned closures, it said. The case is expected to be decided in the autumn, it added.

“The fact that the consultations between company and union did not yield results raises the suspicion that the management of Merck Serono was never interested in a modern social partnership [with its workers],” the union said.

Merck, which had announced the measure in March, said that the proposals by the council and union representatives were not practicable.

Merck plans to transfer 750 of the 1,250 positions at its Serono pharmaceuticals business in Geneva to other sites while the remaining 500 positions will be cut to avoid duplications and create a more competitive organisation.

In addition, about 80 positions will be cut at Coinsins and sites in Aubonne and Corsier-sur-Vevey. The manufacturing operations currently based in Coinsins will be relocated to Aubonne, the company said. 

“This restructuring process involves tough measures, but these are essential to safeguard the future of Merck Serono,” said Stefan Oschmann, executive board member of Merck and head of the Serono business.

Merck acquired Serono in 2006. Following the closures, Merck will continue to employ close to 1,000 people in Switzerland at Aubonne, Corsier-sur-Vevey and Zug, it said.


By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653



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