The union leaders of Sanofi Bangladesh yesterday demanded the French pharma giant back away from its plan to close its operations in the country as it has been a profitable venture.
In a letter to the Sanofi board recently, Muin Uddin Mazumder, managing director of Sanofi Bangladesh, and Charles Billard, chief financial officer of Sanofi India and South Asia, informed their intent to sell their stakes in Bangladesh for strategic reasons.
Sanofi has been making profits for many years and it proves that the workers cannot be made responsible for any potential winding up of the factory.
Rather, problems at the top level of the company may influence the management to leave the country, Abdur Razzaque, president of the Sramik-O-Karmachari Union, told reporters.
The platform of the workers and employees of Sanofi Bangladesh organised a press conference at the National Press Club in Dhaka.
Razzaque said Sanofi has not served any notice or letter to the workers expressing its intention to close the operations yet.
“However, we were called in a meeting by the managing director who informed us that the company has been planning to shut its operation in Bangladesh.”
The management said Sanofi is going to leave the country mainly because of lower profit, he said. “Sanofi has been making profit but it wants even higher profit.”
Razzaque said their principal demand is that Sanofi does not leave the country.
“Let the company continue its business as it has been producing life-saving drugs since 1958.”
About 1,100 workers are employed at the multinational company’s plant in Tongi.
Nevertheless, if Sanofi leaves Bangladesh ultimately, it will have to pay compensation to employees properly, Razzaque said.
Whatever the tenure of the services, the drug-maker will have to pay the salary and other benefits to the employees for next 10 years, including the current service benefits, he added.
The employees will hold rallies and forum human-chains if the demands are not met as soon as possible, according to Razzaque.
In his written speech, Golam Mostafa, general secretary of the Sanofi Karmachari Union, said the departure of Sanofi would have a bad impact on the foreign direct investment.
Some social activities dependent on the corporate social responsibility programmes of Sanofi will have to be discontinued if it exits, he said.
Expressing solidarity with the Sanofi employees, Kutubuddin Ahmed, secretary general of the IndustriAll Global Union – Bangladesh Council, said it is damaging that the Sanofi is leaving the country at a time when Bangladesh has been on development trajectory.
Ruhul Amin, president of the IndustriAll Bangladesh Council, suggested Sanofi pay compensation, salary and allowances to every employee fixing the age of workers at 60 years.
He blamed a top official for the potential departure of Sanofi.
Razekuzzaman Ratan, general secretary of the Samajtantrik Sramik Front, said owners usually shut down factories for labour unrest.
But, Sanofi is different as the owners have been planning to shut down the company despite making profits since its inception in the country.
Sanofi has opened its business in Bangladesh following some rules and if it wants to depart, it will have to follow some rules of the country, he said.
Sanofi has been making profits for years with the help of the workers but is now planning to close the operations rendering them unemployed, Ratan said, suggesting that the government seize all the assets of Sanofi if it leaves the country.