Coronavirus vaccine manufacturer Pfizer has faced criticism from its staff and trade unions after announcing it will be laying off 15% of the staff at its distribution centre in Zaventem, according to Christian trade union ACV.
The pharmaceutical company’s management revealed its plans to lay off 38 of the 238 workers at the site in the province Flemish Brabant on Wednesday as part of the relocation of its external supply department to Romania, the timing of which angered unions.
“Staff have been working double-time for the company in recent months for the production of the Covid-19 vaccine. To now proceed with collective redundancies is a slap in the face for all employees who contribute to Pfizer's success and keep vaccine production on track,” said Bart Deceukelier, secretary at ACV.
The announcement of the redundancies comes just a month after Pfizer said it is expecting to make $4 billion in profit (about €3.32 billion) this year as a result of sales of its Covid-19 vaccine.
“Pfizer’s financial situation at the moment is very favourable,” ACV emphasised, adding that the company was acting "primarily as a profit machine".
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ACV said that this announcement has also worried staff in other departments, adding that “if it can happen with external supply, then it can also happen tomorrow with the other departments."
It suggested the company could move the employees who will be made redundant to the Pfizer Puurs branch, which hired 480 people last year, and has said it would be open to the idea.
On Thursday, trade unions collected staff questions during a meeting, which will be passed on to Pfizer, which not yet commented on the redundancies.
The Brussels Times