About 200 employees of Sanofi along with their family members and union leaders yesterday urged the French pharmaceuticals giant to discard the plan to sell its Bangladesh operation.
They made the call at a human chain programme in front of the National Press Club.
Employees said the closure of the 60-year old Sanofi Bangladesh will create a huge problem for its 1,100 workers. More than 5,000 people are directly involved with the company if the family members of the employees are considered, they said.
“We want Sanofi to stay in Bangladesh as it has been making profits,” said Abdur Razzaque, president of the Sramik-O-Karmachari Union, the platform of workers of the pharmaceuticals company.
The platform will organise token hunger strike programmes from 4:30pm to 6pm every day from October 21 in front of the gate of Sanofi factory in Tongi, Razzaque announced at the event.
Employees also reiterated their demands using placards.
“Our only demand is that Sanofi can’t leave the country for any reason. It is a profitable company. We don’t know the proper reasons behind its planned exit,” Razzaque told The Daily Star on the sidelines of the protest.
Last week, Sanofi Bangladesh Managing Director Muin Uddin Mazumder assured the employees that none will lose job, as they are finding ways to sell the whole operation to a local entity.
However, the protesters said they cannot depend on the assurance.
“We do not have any trust in the potential local buyer as the new owner may not pay our legal compensation packages,” Razzaque said.
For instance, many employees have been working for Sanofi for more than three decades and are supposed to get a lot of service benefits.
But the new buyer may not pay them all the service benefits and may go for job cuts, he said.
There are many employees who have been working for the pharmaceuticals company for 10 years and have the ability to continue serving the company, Razzaque said.
“In such cases, Sanofi will have to pay them extra service benefits because of the loss of potential future earnings.”
Last week, the union leaders also urged Sanofi not to leave Bangladesh.
The company is now packing its bags to leave Bangladesh for strategic reasons, Mazumder said last week, bringing an end to weeks of speculation and denial.
Rumours of Sanofi’s planned exit surfaced last month after Mazumder, Ramaprasad Bhat, country chairman and general manager of Sanofi Bangladesh, and Charles Billard, chief financial officer of Sanofi India and South Asia, met with Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) Chairman Md Haiul Quaium, also the board chairman of Sanofi Bangladesh.
State-run BCIC holds 45.36 percent stake in Sanofi Bangladesh.
At the meeting, the trio conveyed Sanofi’s intent to sell its stakes. But the company continued to deny the rumours vehemently and earlier this month it even sent letters to medical professionals reassuring them that it was not leaving Bangladesh anytime soon.
Last year, it logged in profits of Tk 42.12 crore, up 13.62 percent year-on-year, company data showed.
Its turnover rose 5 percent to 7 percent year-on-year over the last few years, according to Mazumder.
Sanofi Bangladesh holds 17th place among the local medicine manufacturers with less than 2 percent market share.