November 7, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – As Merck KGaA (MKGAF.PK) winds up its business operations in Pakistan, employees are demanding appropriate severance pay for long-time service to the German-based company, Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest English-language newspaper reported this morning.
After more than a 50 year presence in Pakistan, Merck is selling off its Pakistan operations to Martin Dow, Ltd., a leading pharma firm in that company, The News Tribe, another Pakistani publication reported today. The deal will allow Martin Dow to continue the work of Merck’s Pakistani division through an agreement that provides that company with access to Merck’s portfolio. Martin Dow said the acquisition of the Merck Pakistan crew will not result in any loss of jobs, nor will operations be shut down. Under Martin Dow, Merck Pakistan will continue to operate as a separate legal entity, with the same employees, The News Tribe said. Those employees will be guaranteed their jobs for the next two years as part of the agreement. In addition, Merck will pay its employees a “welcome bonus” at closing, the News Tribe said, although what that bonus will be was not specified.
However, the Merck employees are concerned the two-year promise of continued employment is not enough. The employees held a rally over the weekend, Dawn reported, expressing their fears of job loss. They told reported that the two-year provision is not enough – they want financial compensation and benefits before reporting to another employer. Citing other pharmaceutical company acquisitions, the Merck employees said those companies provided benefits and severance pay of 48 to 60 percent of salaries to employees. The Merck employees said Merck has not “cleared the deductions made from their salary under the Employees Old-Age Benefit Institute.” As a result, the protesting employees called on the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan to protect their rights.
For its part, leadership at Martin Dow said it intends to protect the rights of the Merck employees. Speaking to The News Tribe, Jawed Akhai, chairman of Martin Dow, said the company will maintain the same level of loyalty to the Merck employees as the German company did.
“We intend to build Merck’s outstanding record in Pakistan further and protect employees rights in the same manner as has been prevalent all these years in Merck,” Akhai told reporters. “I am sure all employees and other stakeholders will take pride in the fact that they will now be an integral part of the country’s fastest growing pharmaceutical group.”