A 24 hour strike for better pay.
Pharma companies have been no stranger to labour disputes recently and the latest one is hitting a Pfizer manufacturing site right here in Australia.
Pfizer employees have walked off the job at the company’s Perth manufacturing plant as they push for an improvement to a “substandard” wage offer.
According to the United Workers Union (UWU), employees at the plant walked off for 24 hours on Tuesday in protest of what the union sees as an unacceptable pay offer for workers.
Workers began the 24-hour period of industrial action with the union warning members reserved the right to take “indefinite action” unless Pfizer improved its offer.
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%.
“Pfizer’s revenues have doubled in two years, largely on the back of the world’s taxpayers who forked out to have the COVID-19 vaccine distributed in their respective countries,” the union’s Louise Dillon said.
“Australians contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to Pfizer’s profit margins but the company is insistent on squeezing every single dollar, even if it means screwing workers out of a fair pay deal.”
Indeed we did. So much that it may take generations to recover from.
But you read correctly, not even those responsible for Pfizer’s exponential profit margin will get appropriate compensation.
You could almost feel bad if the story wasn’t so comical in nature.
Pfizer says it has delivered ‘above-inflation pay increases’ across the past decade.
“Pfizer is working closely with the union to agree on an (enterprise bargaining agreement) that works for all employees, which offers fair and reasonable terms for wages and allowances, and addresses the increased cost of living,” a company spokesperson responded.
The pharmaceutical giant will soon see their monetary growth doubled since the pandemic period.
Pfizer’s revenue is expected to reach an unprecedented $101.3 billion in 2022, with major contributions coming from the company’s BioNTech-partnered COVID vaccine and an antiviral therapeutic drug.
Pfizer’s own revenue in 2018 clocked in at $53.7 billion.
This is almost double the amount of profit due to COVID-19.
Pfizer made nearly $37 billion in sales from its COVID-19 vaccine last year alone – making it one of the most lucrative products in history. From any industry.
Big money and big business.
None of which will trickle down to their own employees, it seems.
The deceptive activities of Pfizer know no bounds.
Interestingly, Pfizer is not the only organisation to be feeling the heat from labour, as several major companies have been facing the backlash from workers.
GSK’s manufacturing sites in the UK were looking at a strike in April after the group offered what workers described as a “derisory” pay raise and voted in favour of striking. Both sides managed to agree on 4.5%.
In South Korea, things have been hotter on the labour front. Sanofi (manufacturer of newly-rolled out monkeypox vaccines) in June faced a strike by workers over a 1.5% increase in pay. Workers initially demanded a 7% pay hike, and then lowered the demand to 4%.
Finally, in July, unionised 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.
Perth’s 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 closing in 2024.
Products manufactured in Perth will be made at the company’s Melbourne site once the Bentley plant closes.
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