Why we shut down – Swipha
The management of SwissPharma Nigeria Limited has come out to clear the air over the allegation that the pharmaceutical firm sacked over 300 of its workforce and chased them away with police dogs.
The Swipha workers had alleged that the management sent text messages to some workers midnight last Thursday that the company has been shut down and surrounded the premises with police dogs which attacked and chased away the workers from the premises without benefits. The incident was said to have taken place at the company’s headquarters located at the Dopemu area of Lagos.
In a reaction to the publication by P.M.EXPRESS, Gaby El Khoury, Managing Director, Swiss Pharma Nigeria Limited, said that they had to officially shut down operations temporarily to forestall the breakdown of law and order, safeguard company properties and prevent any form of hostility.
Gaby explained that despite the tough economic situation in Nigeria, Biogaran, a subsidiary of Servier (the No. 2 French Pharmaceutical Group) that specialises in generics acquired SwissPharma Nigeria Limited (Swipha) in March 2017, as part of its expansion plans to other African countries. The decision to buy Swipha was taken despite the poor situation of the company which was at the period, short in cash and under threat of closure.
El Khoury said that upon inception, the new management decided to lift the company up to its Group compliance, social policies, corporate governance and benefits for the employees. The management then decided to restructure the organisation to ensure efficiency by removing superfluous staff and eventually align the firm with global best practices.
However, some of these policies appeared to be unacceptable to some members of staff who preferred to slow down, then to hinder operation and embarked on strike since mid-December 2017 and all efforts by the management to make them have a rethink about a promising future proved abortive.
The Managing Director reiterated that the company strongly believes in Nigeria, remains committed to its economic development and is resilient in its quest to engage modern ways of working, best in class practices and high-level compliance standards, notwithstanding the financial loses the company may incur during this time.
Gaby El Khoury further assured that Biogaran trusts in Nigeria and the Nigerian people, and wishes to provide through Swipha to all Nigerians access to quality and affordable medicines. He said that the company remains committed to doing all it takes to ensure that it maintains and strengthens its position as a leader in the pharmaceutical sector.
The Swipha MD did not however address the issue of the sacked workers benefits in his statement which the workers claimed that the management had never mentioned, and so they believed that the company may not have any plan to pay them their severance benefits and other allowances.
But the Company in a reaction said that they have continued to engage the worker’s union and will discuss their concerns on all issues. The company assured that all disengaged staff will receive their severance pay.