AstraZeneca workers to strike

August 20, 2010
Stephanie Sutton

Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

Members of a UK trade union working at AstraZeneca have voted to strike following cuts in pension benefits.

Members of a UK trade union working at AstraZeneca have voted to strike following cuts in pension benefits. According to a statement from UK trade union GMB, 70% of voters in a ballot supported the call for strike action. There will now be a meeting to fix dates unless AstraZeneca “come back to the negotiating table with meaningful terms”, said GMB.

The dispute stems from AstraZeneca’s proposals to change its pension scheme for approximately 2500 staff, based mainly at the company’s Macclesfield (UK) site. In a July statement released prior to the ballot, GMB claimed to have more than 600 members employed at the site. The union also added that the last 4 years have seen huge job losses at the site as well as “radical” changes in working practices.

“AstraZeneca has in financial terms done extremely well in recent years, last year operating profit rose by a staggering 24% compared to 2008. The first quarter of this year (2010) shows further growth year on year of 11% and hence our members see no financial need for these swingeing pension cuts,” said the GMB’s July statement.

According to GMB, talks about AstraZeneca’s pension proposals were held over a 3-month period earlier this year but the company has not moved from its original stance. GMB says it has enlisted the support of unions across Europe.

AstraZeneca have not yet released a press statement. However, an article from Reuters claims that AstraZeneca is reviewing the ballot and has said that about a third of GMB members and less than 2% of its UK employees voted in favour of the strike.

www.gmb.org.uk