Sanofi workers to strike as day of reckoning nears

Sanofi employees are so angry about planned cuts in France that they intend to strike even before they have heard what the numbers will be.

Union members tell Reuters that meetings outlining the reductions are set for Sept. 25 and Oct. 3, but Sanofi ($SNY) officials say specific dates have not been set. Regardless, the union is calling for a company-wide work stoppage Thursday to send a message to management.

The message will probably be too late. Buzz from within the company has put the cuts as high as 2,500. Sanofi has said it must increase earnings by more than 5% annually and trim costs by €2 billion ($2.6 billion) by 2015 as it works to offset the loss of sales from drugs going off patent, like Avapro and blood thinner Plavix, which it shares with partner Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY).

The cuts are expected to focus on its research operations in Toulouse and Montpelier in the south of the country, where Sanofi employs 28,000. The cuts are on top of the 4,000 jobs eliminated in its homeland in the last three years.

Besides unions, Sanofi has gotten an ear full from some government officials. With France's economy struggling, the fact that Sanofi's mother country was absorbing more of the pain, has not set well. French Productive Recovery Minister Arnaud Montebourg told senators when the cuts were first leaked: "Sanofi showed up at the ministry to tell us they were planning several thousand job cuts. Couldn't you have said that earlier on? Last year you made €5 billion ($6.1 billion) in profits."  

- read the Reuters story

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