Novartis workers strike to forestall plant closure

Novartis ($NVS) is suffering a labor whiplash after its announcement last month that it would cut 2,000 jobs. In Nyon, Switzerland, which stands to lose about 320 of those jobs, employees ceased production Wednesday in an attempt to get CEO Joe Jimenez (photo) to consider alternatives to shuttering the plant there, according to IOL Business Report. The action was described as a "one-day token strike" by a German news publication (via Google translation).

Meanwhile, 1,000 people took to the streets in protest, reports New Europe. A union official said employees want to speak with the CEO. Jimenez said he would send the head of Novartis Switzerland, Armin Zust.

Novartis said in its third-quarter financial report that it planned 2,000 Western job cuts, to be replaced by 700 positions in low-cost India and China. Ironically, the drugmaker in 2007 began a $65 million, 10-year collaboration with MIT--the Novartis-MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing--aimed at pulling pharma out of the batch age to capitalize on the efficiencies of continuous processing.

The center is run by MIT's Bernhardt Trout, who noted earlier this year that most small-molecule drugmakers invest a "shockingly low" portion of their capital in product development. His boss, MIT President Susan Hockfield, recently described as "worrisome" the perception of manufacturing in the U.S. that she finds during her travels as co-chair of President Barack Obama's $500 million Advanced Manufacturing Partnership: "Half the people I talk to say, 'This is the most important thing for the nation,' and the other half look at me quite quizzically, as if to say, 'Didn't you get the memo? America doesn't do manufacturing anymore.'"

- here's the IOL report
- see the New Europe story
- here's the German news story

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