Conflict erupts between employees of Takeda, Shire during merger

Kim Yun-mi  Published 2019.08.02  14:23  Updated 2019.08.02 17:15


Takeda Pharmaceutical Korea’s labor union said Takeda employees faced unfair changes in their jobs and roles during the merger of Takeda Korea and Shire Korea.

However, Takeda Pharmaceutical Korea denied the allegation, adding that “no worker had to retire because of the merger and acquisition.” Since Takeda acquired Shire last year, their respective Korean offshoots have been merging, too.

“After former Shire Korea CEO Moon Hee-seok took office as CEO of Takeda Pharmaceutical Korea, he took the lead in reorganizing the company. The process has been in favor of Shire employees only,” said Takeda Pharmaceutical Korea branch of the Korea Democratic Pharmaceutical Union.

During the reshuffling, unfair moves of jobs and roles, and different incentives to Takeda and Shire employees made Takeda workers feel discriminated, the labor union said.

“Recently, the sales team in charge of digestive system products had five Takeda employees and five Shire workers. But Shire salespersons received incentives proportional to salary and Takeda workers received those proportional to their sales performance,” a labor union member said. “Even if the two sides yield the same sales performance, Shire workers get higher incentives.”

Takeda said it would apply different incentive systems to the two sides until the merger process is complete, according to the labor union member. However, the company did not say until when the process ends, he said.

To standardize employment rules, positions, and incentives, the labor union officially requested that the company offer Shire’s information but the company did not respond, he added.

“When the two companies merge, there could be overlapping roles, inevitably. But no Shire worker left during the merger, while scores of Takeda employees left the company,” he said.

He went on to argue that an employee at Takeda, who applied for a new division and received approval from the personnel team, could not move to the new division.

Another employee was seeking to move to another team, but the company stopped the process and placed a Shire employee at the desired position, he said.

However, Takeda Pharmaceutical Korea’s management refuted the labor union’s claim.

The leaving of scores of Takeda employees were due to personal reasons and most of them aimed at personal career development such as finding a promotion opportunity at another firm, Takeda said.

“There is no retiree caused by the merger and acquisition,” the company said.

As for the allegation about unfair changes of jobs and roles, the company said the approval of the personnel team did not mean the whole application process was complete, adding that the completion of the application process required the company’s notice to all employees first.

“During the application process, we can consider many variants depending on business needs and the circumstances of the organization and individuals,” the company said.

“In Korea, Takeda and Shire are two separate firms. The final merger of the two is expected to occur next year. We will review the consolidation of the two companies’ systems later, following the schedule of the two firms’ merger,” the company said.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Korea’s labor union submitted an application for labor dispute mediation to the National Labor Relations Commission on July 26.

The labor union has been conducting collective bargaining for the past three years to set up new ranking scales for the sales department and overhaul incentives. It is also negotiating wages that it did not discuss in 2018.

“The trade union suggested a 9.8 percent raise for the last year’s wage negotiation but the management offered a 2.5 percent hike. Takeda not only turned around recently but recorded a considerable amount of profits last year,” a member of the labor union said. “In the past, we used to have a 5 percent-range increase in wages on average. I don’t understand why the company offers a number below the average.”

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