Work­ers at Pfiz­er Aus­tralian man­u­fac­tur­ing site the lat­est to walk out in la­bor dis­pute protests

Phar­ma com­pa­nies have been no stranger to la­bor dis­putes re­cent­ly and the lat­est one is hit­ting a Pfiz­er man­u­fac­tur­ing site in the land down un­der.

Ac­cord­ing to the Unit­ed Work­ers Union (UWU), em­ploy­ees at Pfiz­er’s phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in the Perth sub­urb of Bent­ley have walked off for 24 hours in protest of what the union sees as a sub­stan­dard pay of­fer for work­ers.

Union mem­bers said Pfiz­er re­fused to con­sid­er a wage in­crease in line with the cost of liv­ing. Pfiz­er has re­port­ed­ly of­fered a 12% in­crease in wages over three years, while union mem­bers are pur­su­ing 18%.

UWU’s ac­tion comes as the plant in Bent­ley is about to shut­ter its doors.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Com­pa­ny in 2020, the Bent­ley man­u­fac­tur­ing site, which makes on­col­o­gy med­i­cines as well as in­jecta­bles for hos­pi­tals in Aus­tralia and New Zealand, an­nounced it would stop its op­er­a­tions in 2023, with the doors ful­ly clos­ing in 2024. Em­ploy­ees would be laid off over three years and em­ploy­ees in Perth will have the op­por­tu­ni­ty to ap­ply for any in­ter­nal va­can­cies as well as some roles that tran­si­tion through re­de­ploy­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Pfiz­er, in a state­ment emailed to End­points News, the com­pa­ny eval­u­at­ed its glob­al man­u­fac­tur­ing net­work to en­sure that its pro­duc­tion ca­pac­i­ty is ef­fec­tive­ly uti­lized and as a re­sult, it de­cid­ed to cease man­u­fac­tur­ing at the Perth site.

The union said that the clo­sure would leave more than 100 ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing work­ers in “lim­bo” as no buy­er has been se­cured. De­spite Pfiz­er leav­ing Bent­ley, the UWU al­so re­port­ed that Pfiz­er was re­fus­ing to guar­an­tee re­dun­dan­cies paid on av­er­age hours worked.

The union stat­ed that they may take in­def­i­nite ac­tion if Pfiz­er re­turns with what they see as an un­fair of­fer.

“Pfiz­er is cur­rent­ly in ne­go­ti­a­tion with the union for a new EBA for the com­pa­ny’s Perth man­u­fac­tur­ing em­ploy­ees. Pfiz­er is work­ing close­ly with the union to agree on a new EBA that works for all em­ploy­ees at the Perth site, which of­fers fair and rea­son­able terms for wages and al­lowances, and ad­dress­es the in­creased cost of liv­ing,” Pfiz­er told End­points.

Pfiz­er al­so de­tailed how over the last 10 years, it has de­liv­ered above-in­fla­tion pay in­creas­es of more than 40% in the agree­ment, com­pared with CPI of 26%.

“We have re­peat­ed­ly as­sured Perth col­leagues that our un­capped re­dun­dan­cy pro­vi­sions re­main in­tact through the EBA agree­ment. Pfiz­er’s re­dun­dan­cy pro­vi­sions are sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er than those pro­vid­ed un­der the Na­tion­al Em­ploy­ment Stan­dards (NES),” the state­ment said.

How­ev­er, Pfiz­er is not the on­ly phar­ma to be feel­ing the heat from la­bor as sev­er­al ma­jor com­pa­nies have been fac­ing the heat from work­ers.

GSK’s man­u­fac­tur­ing sites in the UK were look­ing at a strike in April af­ter the phar­ma of­fered what work­ers de­scribed as a “de­riso­ry” pay raise and vot­ed in fa­vor of strik­ing, how­ev­er, both sides man­aged to agree on a 4.5% raise.

In South Ko­rea, things have been hot­ter on the la­bor front. Sanofi in June faced a strike by work­ers over a 1.5% in­crease in pay, but work­ers ini­tial­ly de­mand­ed a 7% pay hike and then low­ered the de­mand to 4%.

And in Ju­ly, union­ized No­vo Nordisk work­ers gath­ered at the com­pa­ny’s head­quar­ters in Seoul to protest a failed end to wage ne­go­ti­a­tions and cuts to some em­ploy­ee in­cen­tives.

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Who are the women break­ing bar­ri­ers in drug de­vel­op­ment? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' an­nu­al re­port

Today, we’re opening nominations for our fifth annual Women in Biopharma R&D special report.

Over the last four years, we’ve honored 80 women whose extraordinary accomplishments have changed the game in biopharma R&D. We’re looking for big thinkers, scientists, executives and other enterprising women who are breaking barriers in drug development and inspiring the next generation of leaders.