The IndustriALL Global Union, a workers’ rights body based in Geneva, has expressed concern over the termination of four senior officials of French multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi.
The four officials in question were dismissed due to their involvement in the formation of a union at Sanofi’s factory in Bangladesh.
According to reports, dismissal letters were sent to the officials on January 8, less than a month after the government’s department of labour officially informed Sanofi’s management about the recently proposed union registration process.
Sanofi is currently planning to end their Bangladesh operations, which comes as a massive blow to the government at a time when Bangladesh is seeking in earnest to attract foreign investment.
Although Sanofi enjoyed a profitable 60-year tenure in Bangladesh, the company is being forced out of the country due to “unethical marketing practices” prevailing in the industry, some employees said.
Last year, Sanofi Bangladesh logged profits of Tk 42.12 crore, up 13.62 per cent year-on-year, company documents showed. Meanwhile, their turnover increased from 5 percent to 7 percent year–on–year over the last few years, according to Sanofi Bangladesh’s Managing Director Md Muin Uddin Mazumder.
Being globally renowned, it is not expected of Sanofi to practise unethical marketing strategies. As such, the pharmaceutical powerhouse does not enjoy even 2 per cent of the local market share and does not feature in the top 10 list of companies, industry insiders said.
Bangladesh government owns 45.36 per cent shares of the Paris-based public limited company.
Since the demise of Sanofi’s Bangladesh operations seems imminent, their employees have urged the management to not hand over ownership to any other company or terminate them.
In that regard, a section of Sanofi’s employees approached the labour ministry to form unions and protect their jobs. In response, Sanofi illegally dismissed the individuals in question, said a Sanofi employee seeking anonymity.
Following the outcome, IndustriALL’s General Secretary Valter Sanches sent a letter to Sanofi’s chief executive officer at their headquarters in Paris on January 16. Sanches also proposed the establishment of regular dialogues at a global level between the two bodies.
“A serious case has just been reported to me about four workers receiving immediate dismissal notices from your Bangladeshi management as a reprisal for them establishing a union,” the letter read.
“I have confidence that Sanofi is committed to upholding their reputation as a respectful employer. In that regard, I am sure that you will appreciate my raising these issues with you to enable remedial action from Sanofi’s management in Bangladesh,” Sanches continued.
“This recent unfair and illegal labour practice has to be remedied immediately with the reinstatement of the aforementioned workers.”
Sanches also said that the formation of a dialogue between Sanofi and IndustriALL would be vital in order to avoid misunderstandings.