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Merck Serono has redeployed a fifth of axed Swiss staff

Published on 02/10/12 at 10:45am
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Merck Serono says it has redeployed 260 of 1,250 staff affected by the closure and downsizing of sites in Switzerland to other sites in its network, while 170 others have found work elsewhere.

Around 40% of the workers impacted by its decision to close its Geneva headquarters and a manufacturing facility in Coinsins - and reduce staff numbers at two other sites in Aubonne and Corsier-sur-Vevey - have had their employment resolved, according to the company.

In addition to the transfers, 80 workers have accepted early retirement while 35 others have yet to make a decision on a move elsewhere in Merck Serono's network.

So far 40 contracts out of an estimated 100 offered by contract research organisation Quintiles have been issued, while 16 workers have joined start-up companies supported by Merck Serono's €30 million entrepreneurial fund.

Several other start-up projects have reached ‘an advanced stage of evaluation’, according to the company, although the deadline for proposals expired on 30 September.

"Job prospects for more than 500 of our Geneva employees, or 40% of Geneva-based employees, have been clarified … and we hope that this will be the case for the majority of employees by the end of the year," said François Naef, chairman of the board of directors of Merck Serono.

"We hope that more employees will accept the transfer offers that we have made and that the various ongoing contacts and initiatives will rapidly lead to new jobs for the others."

The restructuring exercise was followed by a string of protests and industrial actions as employees battled to avert the closures.

While the main objective was unsuccessful, Merck Serono did improve various elements of its initial severance package for employees losing their jobs and the dispute was resolved in August.

Phil Taylor

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