Novartis to shed 500 jobs in Basel

The Basel-based firm employs 13,000 people in Switzerland. Keystone

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis has announced that it plans to cut 500 jobs at its Basel headquarters in Switzerland over the next 18 months. It says it will also create 350 new posts, mostly in its biotech business.

This content was published on May 18, 2017 - 15:09

Novartis said in a statement on Thursday that it planned to cut up to 500 jobs in the Basel area or to relocate workers to other sites over the next 18 months. The job areas affected were ‘traditional production', coordination and development. 

It said it planned to also create around 350 new high-tech positions in production and research in Switzerland over the same period. This confirms Novartis’ long-term commitment to Switzerland and represents an additional investment, it added. 

The firm employs 13,000 people in Switzerland and a total of 118,000 in 155 countries. In 2016, it had a turnover of $48.5 billion. 

This decision had been taken as part of the ‘ongoing transition to an integrated operating model’ introduced in 2016 to strengthen innovation and enhance quality and efficiency worldwide, the pharma giant said. 

“The ongoing implementation of this model results in adjustments to employee numbers worldwide,” the statement went on. 

The company gave few details but said it wanted to close two former production sites: one at its Basel campus and another at Schweizerhalle in canton Basel. Part of the jobs will be transfered to India.

Union reaction

Novartis said discussions had begun with Swiss employee representatives. It said it would offer full support to all affected employees, from help looking for a new job to early retirement packages.

The Swiss union Unia said the news was a severe blow for Switzerland and a shock especially in view of Novartis' healthy economic situation. It urged the firm to reverse its decision on the job cuts.

Unia said the restructuring measure concerns 162 production jobs, 109 development jobs and 117 pharmaceutical management roles. It is also affects 105 service jobs in finance, recruitment, IT, sales and infrastructure.

Last October, Novartis announced it would axe 73 positions as it mothballs a Zurich-based research centre. The move was said to be part of a global reorganization of research facilities also affecting China, Singapore and the United States.

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