[Ip-health] PigPharma - Sanofi's Happy Holidays messages: Merry Xmas and you are fired for 700, via conference call...

Riaz K Tayob riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Sat Dec 18 01:23:41 PST 2010

[Putting people first... eh?]

Laura Bassett 
lbassett at huffingtonpost.com <mailto:lbassett at huffingtonpost.com> | 
HuffPost Reporting
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  Drugmaker Lays Off 1,700 Via Conference Call Ahead Of Holidays

First Posted: 12-17-10 04:51 PM   |   Updated: 12-17-10 10:13 PM

On Nov. 30, employees at Sanofi-Aventis pharmaceuticals, the world's 
fourth-biggest drugmaker, received an email from the company wishing 
them a happy Thanksgiving and telling them to check their email again at 
5 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 2.

A.R., a Sanofi-Aventis sales representative in California who wished to 
remain anonymous, as her contract forbids publicly disparaging the 
company, said she and her coworkers each received one of the two mass 
emails the company sent out that Tuesday morning. Both emails contained 
a code, an 800-number and a call time, either 8:00 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. The 
employees who were instructed to call in at the earlier time were told 
they could keep their jobs, but the 1,700 employees who called in at 
8:30 a.m. weren't so lucky: They were laid off by a voice on the other 
line that told them to stop working immediately, and had no opportunity 
for question or comment.

Unfortunately, A.R. found herself in the second group.

"The way they did this was so brutal and inhumane," she told HuffPost. 
"We were each assigned an employee number when we started working there 
-- an 'NM' followed by five digits -- and that's how I felt that day. 
Like a number, rather than a valued human being with feelings."

Sanofi-Aventis told its employees they would be paid through Dec. 31, 
and gave them a modest severance package. A.R., who had only been 
working at the company a year and a half, received 13 weeks of pay and 

A.R. says a representative from an outside company hired by 
Sanofi-Aventis to repossess materials came by almost immediately after 
the layoffs to take back the company car she had been driving.

"My manager had convinced me to sell my personal car three months 
earlier because he said the company was in really good shape," she said. 
"So I sold it. I might have to use my severance pay to buy a new one 
now, so I can drive around to job interviews."

Story continues below
Jack Cox, the senior director of media relations for Sanofi-Aventis, 
said the company acknowledges that its method of laying off employees 
"wasn't ideal."

"Rather than cascade these announcements and stretch the notifications 
over the course of days, we decided to address these colleagues at one 
time, to explain the rationale for the reductions and express 
appreciation for the contributions they've made to the organization," he 
said. "We acknowledged in the call that delivering this news on a 
teleconference wasn't ideal, but given the scope and scale of the 
reductions, there was no other way to share this news quickly and 

The automated call seems to have had a ripple effect in at least one 
employee's life. A.R. says she was so "shaken" by the whole process and 
is so worried about the possibility of finding employment in this 
economy that she can't sleep at all, and it's affecting her ability to 
perform in job interviews.

"I've gone through a roller coaster of emotions, angry to panicked to 
sad, and the feedback I've gotten on interviews is that I seem too 
anxious, like I'm more interested in getting any job than that 
particular job," she said. "I say, 'I'm sorry, I just got laid off.'"

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