Merck Biopharma Korea completed the closure of the general medicine (GM) division late last year, but the employees at the division are refusing to use the early retirement program (ERP) and fighting against the management.
Under the headquarters’ decision, Merck Korea shut down the GM division that used to sell hypertension drug Concor and diabetes medicine Glucophage in November. To focus more on specialty care for continuous growth, the company needed to raise efficiency and redistribute resources, it said.
|Some unionized workers of Merck Biopharma Korea hold a rally to demand the company guarantee their employment in Seoul in this file photo dated Oct. 30, 2019.|
At the time, Merck Korea offered ERP only to the GM division and recommended the retirement for all employees at the division. The company also provided financial support for degree programs for two years, sharing of job postings at other companies, and a plan to help them write up CVs and personal statements to land another job.
However, the labor union rejected the management’s offer. It demanded the company guarantee the employment of the GM division workers at the maximum level.
According to the union, 11 employees out of 35 at the GM division are staying in the company.
Cho Young-seok, leader of Merck Biopharma Korea's labor union, said the 11 workers are coming to the Seoul headquarters to work every day. “Two come from Jeolla Province and three others from Gyeongsang Province. The company set up a temporary division and made them do many divisions’ various chores taking turns,” he said.
The trade union asked the company whether the 11 workers had a waiting status or their positions were changed. However, the company only said repeatedly that the company was respecting the workers without dismissal and that there was “no need for salespersons,” Cho added.
The labor union also demands the management to offer ERP not only to the GM division but other divisions. There could be employees at other divisions who want to use ERP, and the vacant positions could be filled with GM division workers, the union argued.
However, the company refused to do so, noting that the workers’ specialties were different.
According to Cho, the union has been fighting against the company for 116 days. The 11 workers are commuting to the head office in Seoul every day, beginning the day with a morning protest.
“I’m aware that workers at other divisions want to use ERP. Among people who want to leave and those who want to stay, who can work for this company with more enthusiasm?” asked Cho.
Merck Korea said the company has been communicating with the 11 employees sincerely and transparently.
Due to the closing of the GM division, there is no sales position for the GM division. “Despite the situation, Merck Biopharma Korea is making the best effort to find alternative positions for them and offer opportunities for them to participate in work. The company is abiding by the relevant law,” the company said.
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