Roche in dispute over contract hiring

 Swiss pharma giant Roche is in dispute with employees of its Polish operation over their use of contract workers for long-term assignments.

The organised protests followed the dismissal of an employee for publicly complaining about Roche’s employment practices.

The protesters argued that Roche is trying to casualise its workforce, avoiding such expenses as annual and sick leave and redundancy payments.

In addition, workers’ groups claimed, the company circumvents the Polish labour code by having people register as self-employed who are in effect on its payroll.

In parts of Europe where most pharmaceutical employees are represented by unions, organised resistance to industry downsizing has been met with some degree of success.

Earlier in January, representatives of the Novartis workforce struck a deal with the company that reversed its decision to shut down a Nyon factory. The negotiations, which included concessions from employees and local authorities, only took place after a one-day strike.

Similarly, a strike at an Organon facility in the Netherlands led to jobs being saved in the summer of 2011, following the company’s acquisition by Merck.