Some workers at the Korean offshoots of multinational pharmaceutical companies are preparing to form a new trade union after leaving the Korea Democratic Pharmaceutical Union (KDPU).
Employees from 10 multinationals held the seventh meeting on Wednesday to create the Global Pharmaceutical Union (GPU), a new labor group. The 10 companies are Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Merck, Boehringer Ingelheim, Sanofi-Aventis, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, GSK, and MSD.
If formed by the 10 member companies, GPU will be the nation’s largest pharmaceutical trade union.
At the Wednesday meeting, the workers at the 10 companies reportedly discussed opening GPU’s membership to the entire pharmaceutical industry, multinational or local. To make GPU a representative labor group in the industry, GPU should not limit domestic firms from joining the group, the meeting participants said.
Some of the 10 firms seeking GPU membership currently belong to the KDPU. Some observers said a form of GPU would incapacitate the existing umbrella trade union. Most of GPU-seeking companies used to be members of the KDPU.
Pfizer, Janssen, Novo Nordisk, and AstraZeneca have left the KDPU due to different opinions over their influence on the KDPU operation. Merck was the latest to leave the group.
Merck officially left the KDPU in the first half of this year because internal conflicts erupted after closing the general medicine (GM) division late last year.
At Merck Korea, one worker at the GM division who was pressured to use the early retirement program (ERP) committed suicide early this year. Still, eight other employees are refusing to use ERP and fighting against the management.
MSD’s move to join GPU is noteworthy. MSD Korea’s labor union used to have KDPU membership. However, many trade union members left the KDPU and formed a separate labor group. Now, there are two labor groups under MSD Korea.
MSD Korea’s GPU-seeking members used to belong to the KDPU. As they are likely to leave the KDPU, the KDPU will suffer a severe internal division, observers said.
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