Merck Biopharma Korea is stepping up the closure of general medicine (GM) division, as it recently agreed to sell the local license of hypertension drug Concor to Daewoong Pharmaceutical. However, most of the employees at the GM division are refusing to use the company’s early retirement program (ERP), continuing to fight against the management.
Merck Korea announced on Tuesday that it clinched a deal with Daewoong to sell the local sales right of Concor, a cardiovascular disease treatment, to the Korean drugmaker.
On Oct. 11, Merck Korea signed a deal to sell the domestic sales right of Glucophage, an anti-diabetic drug, to GC Pharma. The latest deal with Daewoong completes Merck Korea’s plan to shut down the GM division, which was initially scheduled on Nov. 30.
However, the dispute between the management and the labor union that opposes the closure of the GM business is likely to persist for the long term.
Most workers at the GM division refused to take the ERP as encouraged by the company and demanded they receive the management’s guarantee to change positions to keep employed.
“Among the 35 employees at the GM division, nine applied for ERP. The nine people include five non-unionized workers and two who already decided to move to another company,” said Cho Young-seok, leader of Merck Biopharma Korea's labor union. “The other 26 said they would stay in the company no matter what.”
Those 26 individual workers have different opinions. Still, the official stance of the trade union is that the company should open ERP to entire divisions and make every effort to help GM division workers move their positions, he said. “The labor union does not intend to back off, and we are bracing for a long-term fight after Nov. 30,” he added.
According to Cho, the company ordered employees at the GM division to work at the headquarters after Nov. 30.
“Workers living in provincial areas cannot help but come to Seoul every day to work. This is the company’s scheme to make the workers voluntarily leave,” he said.
However, Merck Korea said, “We will provide various and practical measures for GM division employees as a responsible company, and make a smooth transition in business.”
The company said it would not only provide competitive retirement packages but opportunities for employees to change their positions within the company or move to another company.
It would also offer financial support for a range of degree programs, including MBAs and master's degrees, for up to two years, the company added.
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