Merck KGaA’s headquarters site in Darmstadt, Germany, is the pride of its international operations, and it intends to keep it that way. The German drug and materials maker says it has nailed down new work agreements with employees there and will invest €1 billion in the site.
Merck today said that the company management and the Joint Works Council at Darmstadt have signed a comprehensive agreement covering the 11,000 employees to secure its “future viability.” Merck said that with the deal, workers have bought into changes the company wants to make in its businesses. The agreement extends through 2025.
“With our investment commitment, we are permitting additional growth and are creating employment perspectives for tomorrow and beyond,” Kai Beckmann, the CEO of Performance Materials and the board member in charge of the Darmstadt site said in a statement. “Together with the employee representatives, we want to support the changes in our three business sectors here at the Darmstadt site in the best possible way.”
Michael Fletterich, chairman of the Works Council of Merck KGaA, said the two sides conducted intensive negotiations “and in some cases had strong debates” but that the agreement was both good for workers and the future of the company.
While €1 billion will be spent on projects and efforts across the site, some of the money will go towards a new plant to build membranes that among other uses go into filters for pharmaceutical production. Some also will be spent on a new Vocational and Advanced Training Center at the site. It said it currently has more than 500 apprentices in 22 vocational training occupations to feed its constant need for trained employees.
The work agreement covers 11,00 employees at Darmstadt and nearby Weiterstadt and Gernsheim in Germany. No employee cuts were announced but the company said it includes “a voluntary leave program and a bridge model for an early transition to retirement.”
The company last fall made some moves that cost 200 manufacturing jobs in Europe but benefited some sites, including Darmstadt.