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Novartis reverses plant closure plans

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis has abandoned plans to close a plant in Nyon in canton Vaud and has scaled down potential job losses at another factory in Basel.

This content was published on January 17, 2012 - 15:15
swissinfo.ch and agencies

In a press conference on Tuesday the Basel-based group said there would no job cuts at the Nyon plant, which makes non-prescription medicines. Around 320 jobs had been expected to go with the plant closure.

Instead the group plans to invest in modernising the plant in the coming years, Novartis Switzerland president Pascal Brenneisen said. The cantonal authorities have agreed to temporary tax breaks for the group. All personnel, including the directors, will forego some of their salary increases and working hours will be reduced.

Public pressure had been mounting over the planned closure, with around 1,000 people taking part in a demonstration in Nyon in November, and unions and local politicians coming out against the plans.

Novartis had been intending to cut around 760 jobs at its chemical factory in Basel, but said on Tuesday that the number of losses would be “considerably reduced”. It now plans to redeploy a third of the workforce elsewhere. In the meantime, Novartis said it had agreed to study union proposals about the restructuring at the Nyon and Basel plants.

Unia described Novartis' climbdown as an "historic success" but unions representing the Basel employees said the planned job losses were unacceptable. They called on Novartis to finally begin talks.

Novartis employs around 121,000 people worldwide, including 12,500 in Switzerland.

In October it announced plans to cut 2,000 jobs over three years, half of which were to be carried out in Switzerland. Some of the work was also to be outsourced to workers in China and India. Last week it said another 2,000 posts would be lost in the United States.

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