Sanofi Bangladesh Ltd's manufacturing plant has been operative and its supply chain steady amid the Covid-19 pandemic, yet it has deducted about half of the salaries of most of its sales team members for the month of April.
The company said it had deducted the basic salaries of its sales team members since recently they stopped working completely.
However, the employees alleged that Sanofi Bangladesh cut salaries of those employees who have been involved in demonstrations since September 2019, demanding compensation and benefits over the sale of the company to a local pharmaceutical company.
They also said that had the sales teams not been working, the company's products would not have been supplied uninterruptedly to the local market.
Sources have said the company has cut the salaries of about 430 employees out of 450 in its sales team.
The employees claimed that the deducted amount ranged from around Tk10,000 to Tk50,000, depending on an employee's basic salary. As a result, the families of these employees now face the threat of starvation ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
When The Business Standard contacted Farhana Tofail, Head of Communications at Sanofi Bangladesh Ltd, she responded through the company's public relations agency.
In the statement, Sanofi Bangladesh said, "As a leading healthcare company, Sanofi Bangladesh has prioritised the health of the people by making sure that our products have been available in Bangladesh despite the pandemic. Our manufacturing plant has been operational and patients across Bangladesh have benefited from our high-quality products.
"Yet, since the last 3 months, some of our sales force employees have completely stopped working, even from home, when all other Sanofi Bangladesh employees have continued to work hard and ensure the availability of our high-quality medicines in Bangladesh.
"We have repeatedly highlighted to them in meetings and through official emails and other correspondence that such behavior and action on their part clearly violate the Company's rules and policies as well as their respective employment contracts, and furthermore, are contrary to applicable laws.
"Despite all our efforts, when these employees continued to remain absent from work, we were compelled to deduct the basic component of their salary for April on account of their unauthorised absence from work. However, the Company has decided to disburse the festival bonus for Eid, in favour of each of them," said the company in the statement.
It may be recalled that the Bangladeshi pharmaceutical giant Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd signed an agreement with the French multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi in January this year on buying the majority shares of Sanofi Bangladesh Ltd for a sum of about Tk412 crore.
The stakeholders anticipate that the proposed transaction of 19.63 lakh shares (54.6%) will be completed within the next three months following approval from regulators concerned.
The remaining 45.4% shares of Sanofi Bangladesh are owned by the Bangladesh government through the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (20%) and the Ministry of Industries (25.4%).
Sanofi, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, began operating in Bangladesh as "May and Baker" in 1958 and later merged with various entities to form Sanofi-Aventis in 2004.
It was renamed Sanofi Bangladesh Ltd in 2013. The company has a modern pharmaceutical plant in Tongi.
Sanofi supplies its global brands of vaccines, insulin and chemotherapy drugs to Bangladesh through direct imports.
Sanofi Bangladesh generated Tk388 crore in revenue, Tk49.79 crore in profit before tax and Tk609 crore of gross assets in 2019.