Employees of Sanofi Bangladesh Limited, a Paris-based multinational pharmaceutical company, have issued a 48-hour ultimatum demanding their: provident fund, compensation, gratuity, workers participant fund, and pension.
If Sanofi's management does not pay the dues to the workers within the stipulated time, Sanofi's employees will hold a nationwide protest and hunger strike unto death, they announced at a press conference organised by the Sanofi Bangladesh Limited Employees Welfare Association at the Sagor-Runi Auditorium of the Dhaka Reporters' Unity on Sunday morning.
Sanjeev Kumar Chakraborty, general secretary of the association, said, "Sanofi has been built on the tireless work of thousands of its officers and employees. The company is leaving the country by selling its shares, without providing any kind of financial compensation to its employees. However, in the case of sale or transfer of Sanofi shares in other countries, the workers have always been given adequate financial compensation. Why are Bangladeshi employees being deprived?"
Nuruzzaman Raju, president of the organisation, also complained, "Some Bangladeshi officials are involved in this plan to deprive the workers of compensation. They are also threatening and intimidating us."
He added, "Sanofi is a reputed multinational company. If it does not pay us before it sells its shares to the local company, our compensation is almost 100% uncertain. That is why we are drawing the attention of the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation [BCIC], Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Labour, French Embassy in Bangladesh, European Union Delegation, International Labour Organization, and other international organisations. Help us get our fair share."
On 21 January, Sanofi signed an agreement to sell 54.6% of its shares to Beximco. However, the company has said it will continue to sell its drugs on the Bangladeshi market even if it relinquishes ownership.
On 14 October last year, the company's country chair and managing director announced to their employees that by March 2021, they would complete 55% of the share transfer process to a third company.
Since the announcement, the officers and employees have been demanding the future of their jobs, earned benefits and compensation.
In a statement, Sanofi Bangladesh Limited said, "Since the beginning of this project, Sanofi has consistently reaffirmed that our employees' interests would be integral to the final selection of the buyer of the stake in the company. While we had initially committed to 12 months of collective employment guarantee, Sanofi has now announced that its employees will continue on the current terms and conditions that exist today for 3 years from closing of the transaction. Employees will also continue to have the same benefits."
French company Sanofi has been manufacturing and selling medicine in Bangladesh for more than six decades. The company was being operated under the BCIC. The Government of Bangladesh owns 45.36% of the shares of Sanofi Bangladesh. The rest was in Sanofi's hands.
Sanofi is the second company, after GlaxoSmithKline, to pull out of Bangladesh.