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Merck Serono resolves labour dispute over Swiss closures

Will offer additional benefits to affected employees

Merck Serono

Merck Serono says it has resolved disputes with workers affected by its decision to close several Swiss sites, including its Geneva HQ.

It should put an end to a worker backlash that has already seen protests staged and the threat of strike action raised.

The company has now agreed to offer additional benefits to all employees affected by the restructure, including greater support for the most economically vulnerable employees.

It will also 'facilitate the redeployment' of those employees made redundant as a result of its decisions, which include consolidating headquarter functions within its German HQ, with the loss of 500 Swiss jobs.

The company is also relocating manufacturing operations from Coinsins to Aubonne and making 80 positions redundant across its facilities in the Swiss region of Vaud, which comprise sites in Aubonne, Coinsins and Corsier-sur-Vevey

Under its agreement the company says it will offer:

• A minimum guaranteed amount in severance pay (CHF 25,000 minimum)

• An additional severance payment for employees who are 50 years old or more, including employees eligible for early retirement who would not elect this option due to economic reasons

• Maintaining full severance pay for employees who resigned in the three months preceding the anticipated date of their severance

• A special fund of CHF 500,000 for cases of extreme hardship, in particular for laid-off employees who find themselves in a particularly difficult financial situation as a consequence of the closure of the Geneva site

• A CHF 2 million contribution to a fund implemented and managed by cantonal authorities to alleviate the impact of the closure of the Geneva site on the local employment market and to support individual redeployment through a number of measures and programmes

It will also not require employees made redundant to work during the last month of their notice period to help them to concentrate on looking for a new job. 

"We are pleased to have been able to conclude this agreement, which is the fruit of a lengthy, sometimes difficult, but always constructive dialogue and of efforts made by each of the parties concerned to put an end to the conflict," said François Naef, chairman of board of Merck Serono S.A.

"Employees will now be able to devote all their energy to their professional futures, whether within the company for those who will be transferred to another site, or outside it. Whatever their situation, we will continue to do all that we can to support them over this transitional period." 

There has already been positive news for some Merck Serono employees, after pharma services company Quintiles pledged to offer at least 100 jobs to affected employees.

10th August 2012

From: Research, Sales

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