The strikes this week at ICON drug research, with a laboratory in Assen, have yielded nothing, according to trade union FNV. That is why employees will take two and a half days off work next week.
“Last Tuesday we stopped work for half a day and a whole day on Wednesday,” FNV director Chaim Korthof looks back. “But we haven’t heard from the employer yet. That’s why we’re going to strike again next week.” On Tuesday, work is again suspended for half a day, on Wednesday and Thursday all day.
ICON drug research is the old PRA Health Sciences with 840 employees in Assen, Groningen and Utrecht. The company was acquired by the Irish multinational ICON two years ago. But employees do not feel valued by the company, which reported a worldwide profit of 7 billion last year, according to the FNV. The Christmas package was withdrawn last Christmas, but the biggest stumbling block is the current collective labor agreement. The employees want a wage increase that covers the increased costs and a decent travel allowance. In addition, they demand an end-of-year bonus of two percent, because the employer never pays bonuses.
So far, the employer has offered a six percent wage increase. Insufficient, according to Korthof. “There is nothing to negotiate with the Dutch branch. It seems as if they have no mandate from Ireland to make decisions about this.”
The company’s laboratory is located in the building of ICON pharmaceutical research on the A28 in Assen. About 350 people work here. There is a department in Groningen where medicines are tested on volunteers. “For safety reasons, not everyone in Groningen can strike. The volunteers who participate in the investigations must not be endangered,” says the union leader. In Assen, on the other hand, a large proportion of the employees have stopped working. That has consequences for the company.
“These studies produce laboratory material. This is analyzed in Assen. The work interruption therefore affects the research programs. Studies are falling behind. It is a crucial place in the organization. Research on volunteers is not possible without this lab,” Korthof explains. .