Novartis hammers out deal to keep Nyon plant open

Don't accuse Novartis ($NVS) CEO Joe Jimenez (photo) of refusing to listen. After workers in Nyon, Switzerland, stopped work to protest their plant's closure, the company sat down to talk about other options. And now, Novartis says it won't shut down that plant after all. The company also won't cut as many jobs as planned at a plant in Basel.

Instead, more than 300 Nyon workers will keep their jobs. They also will all forgo pay increases and suffer increases in their working hours without extra pay. Local officials are providing temporary tax breaks. And the company will invest about $42 million into modernizing the plant going forward, the company's Switzerland President Pascal Brenneisen told Swissinfo.

"The announcement today reflects the joint efforts of all concerned," Jimenez said in a statement. "We worked together to find constructive solutions."

Novartis said last fall it would be cutting 2,000 jobs over three years, more than half of those in Switzerland, and some work would be outsourced to lower-cost areas such as China. Unaccustomed to massive job cuts--and reeling from a series of layoff announcements--Swiss unions and political activists staged protests in Basel, where Novartis is based, and Nyon.

Not only will the Nyon plant stay open, but the company says it won't cut all 760 jobs it had planned to shed at its Basel plant. The company says it may be able to offer early retirement for a third of those workers, Reuters reports, while it will look to find other positions within the company for another third.

- see the release from Novartis Switzerland (in French)
- read the Swissinfo story
- get more from Reuters

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