Press Release; 31 March 2016
Countermotion to BAYER shareholder meeting:
"Board of Management not meeting responsibility toward workforce"
With an annual profit (after tax) of EUR 4 billion, BAYER’s Pharmaceuticals division is the most lucrative within the company. It is unacceptable that, despite such high profits, jobs are to be cut.
At the end of 2015, BAYER announced that, over the next three years, it would be cutting by around one-third the current workforce of 670 at the Grenzach/Germany site. This move affects subcontract workers as well as employees with permanent and temporary contracts. By 2018, the Grenzach filling line for pre-filled syringes and injection bottles is to be closed completely.
And yet just two years ago, Thomas Wozniewski, then head of the Consumer Care division, praised the site’s success in third-party business and expressed great satisfaction with the work there. BAYER acquired the plant close to the Swiss border from ROCHE in 2004. As is usual in such transactions, there was immediate talk of savings potential. A commitment to the site demanded by the trade unions was not forthcoming. Management deliberately left the workforce in uncertainty so that it could extract concessions. In order to safeguard the site, longstanding employees ultimately had to accept massive cuts in their company pension entitlements.
At the present time, management and the works council are negotiating a redundancy scheme. In order to reduce the number of dismissals and safeguard the remaining jobs, the works council is demanding an employment pact and investment to modernize the facility. These demands are worthy of support. The company must not be allowed to shirk its responsibility for its employees.
Overall, it should be noted that BAYER employees are treated extremely unequally. An employment pact is in place only for the workforce at the Leverkusen, Dormagen, Krefeld, Brunsbüttel and Wuppertal sites (around 60 percent of employees in Germany) but not for the employees of the BAYER companies at Bitterfeld, Grenzach and elsewhere.
The situation is even more serious at the subsidiaries outside Germany. Since BAYER has closed several unionized sites in the USA, just 5 percent of the workforce there is covered by a collective agreement or similar company agreements; the figure in Europe is 88 percent. The situation is little better in Asia, where just 15 percent of employees are covered by collective agreements.
These serious inequalities within the workforce are not acceptable. The actions of the Board of Management therefore should not be ratified.