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‘Merck Korea unilaterally lays off employees’
  • By Kim Yun-mi
  • Published 2019.10.01 11:09
  • Updated 2019.10.01 13:16
  • comments 0

Merck Biopharma Korea has been embroiled in a labor dispute.

Merck Korea branch of the Korea Democratic Pharmaceutical Union held a rally in front of the headquarters of Merck Korea in southern Seoul, Monday, to secure stable employment and protest the company’s coerced restructuring of a division.

Merck Korea’s unionized workers demanded the management withdraw its decision to sell the General Medicine Primary Care division in charge of marketing chronic disease treatments such as Glucophage and Concor.

Unionized workers of Merck Biopharma Korea hold a rally to demand the management secure, stable employment and withdraw its decision to sell off a division in front of the company’s headquarters in southern Seoul, Monday.

Cho Young-seok, head of Merck Korea’s union, said after the management announced that it would sell the sales rights of Glucophage and Concor to another company on Aug. 23, it unilaterally notified employees that it would execute the early retirement program for the General Medicine Primary Care division.

“The company has not had any discussion over the issue of the restructuring of the division until the announcement. Without taking any other option such as giving the workers at the division other positions, the company pushed only for voluntary retirement and tried to take away their employment rights,” Cho claimed.

Because of the company’s unilateral decision, workers are worried about their job security and furious at the company’s irresponsible attitude, he added.

Cho went on to say that Merck Korea’s decision to license out Glucophage and Concor to a local drugmaker was “a mistake caused by the lack of understanding of the Korean market.”

If Merck Korea hands over the sales rights of the two products to a local pharmaceutical company, Merck’s original drugs will become only a tool to help sell the local firm’s generic medicines, Cho said. Then, the two products will make losses before long, he added.

“I hope Merck Korea will deliver this message to the headquarters faithfully and persuade them to withdraw the decision to sell the General Medicine Primary Care division,” Cho said.

In response to the union’s demand, Merck Korea said, “There is no possibility that the decision will be overturned because we made the final decision after reviewing future strategies and directions with the headquarters.”

The company said the decision to sell the division aimed to improve the company’s capability for sustainable growth.

To focus on specialty care business for future growth, the company needs to boost its competitiveness and distribute resources strategically, it said.

“After carefully evaluating various strategic alternatives, the company decided to license out the General Medicine Primary Care division to a Korean partner firm which has more clients,” the company said. “We haven’t set a date for the sale, but we internally announced it for transparent and open communication within the company.”

The company said it highly regarded the works of the General Medicine division’s employees and that it would support the division as much as possible through employee-friendly policies, such as the ERP and the job-moving support service.

Cho shaved his head during the protest to deliver the unionized workers’ resolution to the company.


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