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Reorganisations: How the AVR is supporting those affected

"The growing number of reorganisations at Roche in shorter and shorter time frames is worrying", says Adnan Tanglay, President of the Roche Employees' Association (AVR).

The background: the entire pharmaceutical sector is experiencing a period of transition. Roche is coming under pressure owing to the expiry of patents for its best-selling products and the introduction of biosimilars, the “copycat” products.

The announcement of a "Pharma Transformation" by Daniel O'Day, Chief Executive Officer of Roche Pharmaceuticals and member of Roche Corporate Executive Committee, triggered reorganisations in various pharmaceutical fields. The AVR is currently involved in the following restructuring programmes: Global Infrastructure & Solutions (GIS), One Procurement, Pharma Development/Clinical Operations (PDG), Kaiseraugst Packaging Transformation (PT), Small Molecule Asset Transformation (SMAT), Global Access and Pricing Strategy (GPS), Pharma Technical Registration (PTR) and ReModelGRA (Global Regional Affiliates) with Pharma Finance and Pharma Informatics.

The aim of these reorganisation programmes is to save costs by reviewing and improving structures. This also involves some job losses: in some cases, new positions are created, in others, departments are outsourced to more cost-effective countries, and the final measure is to combine activities (Shared Service Centers/Hubs).

In Switzerland, several hundred Roche employees are affected by the reorganisations, although this does not necessarily mean that all will automatically lose their jobs. However, for the first time in its history, Roche actually had fewer employees in Switzerland last year than the year before.

Ever-faster processes

Andreas Winkler, Treasurer of the AVR, says: "It's happening an awful lot these days. It's often difficult to find out what's going on, as the reorganisations are happening increasingly quickly."

The AVR's job is to understand the strategy behind each and every reorganisation and the overall context as quickly as possible. To this end, it learns as much as it can about a situation so that it can negotiate as an equal partner at a later date and produce an informed opinion for HR, management and group management. "We dedicate a lot of time and effort in addition to our actual jobs," explains AVR Vice President Gernot Scharf. The association also seeks to hold talks with employees from affected departments to get first-hand information. "It's very important that employees cooperate with us," he adds.

Showing alternative ways

In the consultations, the AVR endeavours to retain as many jobs as possible that are planned to be cut and thus enable employees to continue to work. In many cases, the positions are changed significantly, which means that job holders must reapply for the role. The AVR tries to find ways to allow those affected to be placed directly (mapping) into new functions.

The AVR also points out alternatives to the planned job cuts and suggests substitution retirements, among other things – that is, someone takes early retirement to enable someone who is affected by restructuring to continue to work.

If a contract termination cannot be avoided despite these steps, those affected receive professional support from the Roche Reorientation Centre (NOZ), which is responsible for job placement within the company and has a success rate of 96%.

All employees affected by the current restructuring plans receive an AVR-negotiated redundancy scheme for 2018/2019. Every six weeks the AVR also meets with Human Resources and the NOZ to follow up on individual cases and avoid cases of hardship. However, AVR President Adnan Tanglay emphasises that: "We get involved as early as possible so that it doesn't come to this."

Sabine Knosala