In its quest for cost savings, Syngenta plans to cut and relocate 1,800 jobs globally, the majority of which will happen in 2015. Around 500 operational roles in Basel will be affected, of which two-thirds are expected to be relocated.
The job cuts and relocations are part of the company’s Accelerating Operational Leverage programme that was announced in February 2014. The plan aims to save the company $1 billion (CHF970 million) by 2018.
Despite the gloomy news, Syngenta’s CEO Mike Mack, reiterated the company’s commitment to Switzerland and highlighted investments being made to improve its Basel headquarters.
"With our strong Swiss roots, we remain committed to Basel as our headquarters and value this country's position as a center for business and innovation, as evidenced by our significant ongoing investments here. We undertake to carry out the planned job reductions and relocations in a socially responsible way, “ he said.
He added that in the short-term the downsizing would help the company save costs in 2015 in a “challenging market environment” and help improve effectiveness and innovation in the long-term.
The Syna trade union referred to the announcement as "Black Monday" and claimed to be shocked by the cold manner in which the job cuts were revealed. The Unia union denounced the move as a setback for Basel's position as an economic hub and called for the cantonal government to intervene to ensure maximum number of jobs are saved.
Syngenta currently employs 3,400 people in Switzerland, most of them at its Basel headquarters. Its crop protection factory in Monthey in the canton of Valais employs over 900 workers and is Syngenta's largest production site worldwide.
Globally Syngenta employs more than 28,800 staff in over 90 countries.