PARIS - Sanofi has opened talks to get some of its French employees to work longer hours, but unions charged Wednesday the drugmaker -- which posted a net profit of over two billion euros -- doesn't have a competitiveness problem.
A Sanofi (IW 1000/102) spokesman confirmed that the talks, which opened last month, are aimed at "maintaining the competitiveness of our French sites in a durable manner."
France several years ago gave companies under financial pressure greater flexibility to negotiate changes in working conditions, but union leaders at Sanofi questioned whether the company really faced a competitiveness problem.
A company document consulted by AFP said management aims to improve productivity by 20% to 25% at some of its French pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities to match those in eastern Europe.
A CFDT trade union leader said management had talked about increasing working hours, cutting the number of days off, rearranging work patterns and requiring workers to carry out additional functions.
"They say there is a competitiveness problem, but they haven't demonstrated it to us," said Patrick Rojo, a leader at CGT union.
In the first half of this year Sanofi increased its net profit by a quarter to 2.32 billion euros (US$2.6 billion).
So far the plans concern 5,000 of Sanofi's 27,000 employees in France.
The company, which is the maker of the anti-blood clot drug Plavix, employs 110,000 people worldwide.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015