French unions agitate for Sanofi strike

Will Sanofi-Aventis ($SNY) be the latest drugmaker to suffer worker protests in the wake of cost cuts? Nine French unions are calling on Sanofi workers to strike in opposition, saying that the latest workforce reductions are just too much. Those 916 cuts (by the unions' count) come on top of 2,700 other jobs lost since Sanofi and Aventis merged in 2005, the labor leaders said.

Sanofi says it hasn't announced any new cuts since it disclosed a reorganization that would claim 575 jobs (the union adds 260 already unoccupied jobs and 81 staffers who have to change jobs to get to its 916 total). The unions want workers to strike beginning Wednesday.

If Sanofi staff walks out, they would join at least two other groups who've protested pharma cuts with varying success. AstraZeneca workers in Macclesfield, England, went on strike to protest changes to their pension plans; after talks with the company, the labor groups backed down. Merck workers in the Netherlands, however, persuaded the company to hold off on shutting down former Organon facilities until it could further study the potential changes.

- read the Reuters news