It is a hard blow for the Neuchâtel economy. Twelve hours after the announcement of a historic loss for Swatch Group present at several sites in the canton, Johnson & Johnson announced its intention to cut 320 jobs in its subsidiaries Ethicon and Medos, based in Neuchâtel and Marin.
The announcement came Thursday evening, on the sidelines of the publication of the annual results of the American group active in medical technologies (medtech) and pharmaceutical products. Also in the covid vaccine race, the company saw its sales stagnate in 2020. Its net profit fell 2.6 to $ 14.7 billion.
Declining sales in medtech
The group’s medtech division has suffered in particular from the impact of the pandemic. Sales fell 10.6% in this segment. A segment in which the two entities threatened by the restructuring project are active. Johnson & Johnson specifies, however, that the two elements are not linked.
A consultation procedure is open and runs until February 11. According to the leaders of the multinational, it does not concern part of the workforce working for Medos International Sàrl, “only a few employees may be concerned”.
The feeling we have is that Johnson & Johnson intends to “liquidate” Neuchâtel.
As Johnson & Johnson is not a signatory to the Collective Labor Agreement, the unions will not be involved at this stage. A stage deemed “extremely short” by Silvia Locatelli, union secretary at UNIA. This delay may be surprising since the job cuts will not be carried out before the course of the year 2022, or even in 2023.
Asked by regional radio RTN, Jean-Nat Karakash, State Councilor in charge of the Economy, said he was “surprised” and “shocked”. He intends to open the discussion with the leaders of the group to “evaluate all the possible options, if there are any, in order to maintain the activities in the canton”.
According to the current project, around fifty jobs would remain in Neuchâtel lands, mainly support activities. “Even if Johnson & Johnson reiterates its attachment to Switzerland, the feeling we have, analyzes Silvia Locatelli, is that Johnson & Johnson intends to“ liquidate ”Neuchâtel.”
The group employs more than 4,000 people at different sites around the country, with a dozen companies in different cantons.