Merck to Axe 1,100 Jobs in Germany by 2015

Sept. 4, 2012
Move is part of global cost-cutting drive.

Chemicals and pharmaceuticals group Merck KGaA (IW1000/343) said Tuesday it will cut one job out of every 10 in Germany over the next three years as part of a global cost-cutting drive.

Nevertheless, none of the job cuts would involve forced redundancies, the company said.

As part of an efficiency plan drawn up in agreement with employee representatives, "Merck plans to eliminate around 1,100 of the 10,900 positions in Germany by the end of 2015," the statement said.

The jobs would be cut "in a socially acceptable manner, mainly through voluntary resignation and early retirement programs across all divisions and functions."

Aside from just 100 positions in areas where jobs were already being farmed out -- for example in regulatory affairs or jobs that require considerable manual labor, such as certain blending and filling activities in production -- there would be no outsourcing, Merck said.

Two sites employing around 140 employees -- the production of industrial salts in Lehrte, as well as the filling operations in Hohenbrunn -- would be discontinued.

Management and employee representatives would "consider various scenarios for the two sites" in the coming months.

"We have had constructive discussions with works council members for the past several months and are happy to say that we now have a roadmap that will position Merck Germany in such a way that the company is prepared for the challenges we will face," said board member and head of human resources, Kai Beckmann.

"This agreement is a positive development for Merck's future and a clear commitment to Germany."

Works council chief Heiner Wilhelm said it was "particularly important" that there would be no forced redundancies through the end of 2017 and "we were largely able to avoid outsourcing of jobs."

Further cost savings would be achieved via a reduction in personnel costs as the result of "a restructuring of the compensation system," Merck continued, without providing more details.

The company said it would also invest "at least 250 million euros" (US$316 million) in its headquarters in Darmstadt and other German sites over the next two years.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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