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Pfizer’s spinoff of generics unit causes disputes with trade union
  • By Kim Yun-mi
  • Published 2020.01.20 15:44
  • Updated 2020.01.20 15:44
  • comments 0

Pfizer’s spinoff of its generics business division has made the employment of Pfizer Korea workers unstable, forcing its trade union to review taking legal action against the company, the union said.

“Due to Pfizer’s reorganization moves such as the merge of its consumer healthcare business (with GSK) and spinoff of Upjohn (a generics division), Korean workers are increasingly worried about their job security,” the head of the labor union told Korea Biomedical Review on Friday.

In January last year, Pfizer announced that it would reorganize itself into three parts – biopharmaceuticals, Upjohn that focuses on off-patent drugs, and consumer healthcare.

In July, Pfizer split off Upzone and merged it with Mylan. The new entity became the world’s largest generics-specializing company, which Pfizer later named Viatris as an independent company.

In August, the multinational pharmaceutical firm said it would combine its consumer healthcare division with GSK to establish the world’s largest over-the-counter business division.

Under the headquarters’ reorganization policy, Pfizer Korea started to separate Upjohn in May last year. The separation will be completed around mid-2020, and it will be an independent company under Viatris.

When a company spins off a division and merges it with another company, the company will likely lay off workers, according to the trade union. Considering recent developments at the company, Pfizer Korea workers worry that they might lose their jobs, the labor union said.

According to the union, Pfizer announced the merger plan with Mylan soon after the separation of Upjohn. Pfizer said it would reduce costs of $1 billion in the new company per year by 2023. The union claimed that the cost reduction plan raises the chance of layoffs.

The union said even though Pfizer owns more stakes in the newly merged company, Pfizer used the term “merger.” As the name of the new company came from one of the names that Mylan had, a higher number of board members from Mylan, and Upjohn will be separated from Pfizer, the recent merger is almost a sell-off of Upjohn to Mylan, the union said.

“The spinoff of Upjohn must have aimed at layoffs,” the labor union’s head said. “We are looking for various ways to secure workers’ employment, and one of them is to take legal actions.”

What the union wants is to receive Pfizer’s guarantee that workers can have the same work conditions in the new company as when they were at Pfizer, the union said.

“If our workers belong to a completely different company, there should be compensations at the level of ‘common sense,’” he added.

In response to the labor union’s argument, Pfizer Korea said, “the company’s spinoff of the division went through a legal process, and in the process, sufficient communication and consultation between labor and management were made.”


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