KARACHI, May 3: The senior cadre of the drug multinational firm Merck campaigning to convince their employer to offer third option of severance package to their employees got a rude shock when the company they served for long opted to fire them for not accepting the deal being offered.

Four directors - Aslam Sheikh, Javed Alam, Saifullah Khan and Salman Saeed Siddiqui - paid with their job for not falling in line with the plans of the company.

Tahir Iqbal, the managing director of Merck Sharp and Dohme told Dawn over phone that the company had to resort to the extreme step on April 25, when it felt that the gentlemen had made up their mind and negotiations with them for over a week bore no result.

“The company did try to accommodate them as HR personnel of Merck & Co, Inc. US were flown in to settle the issue amicably but the group was insistent on demanding terms that were not acceptable to the company,” he said.

The representative of the terminated director Saifullah Khan told Dawn that the company had not been fair to its employees as the deal struck between Merck and OBS forces the employees to either join the new employer or lose their jobs without any redundancy benefits.

“The redundancy benefits are offered when the company wants to lay off its employees. In our case production will continue on the same plant as before so the workers were encouraged to continue on same terms after the acquisition deal.

In fact a package was announced by the company to be given after a year as an incentive for continuation,” Tahir Iqbal said.

He said that of the 270 employees only four have formed a group and decided not to accept the deal being offered. “The rest of the employees accepted the terms and conditions to continue with the company. There are eight other directors of the company, who have agreed to carry on,” he said.

The claim that terms and conditions under the new management has not changed is factually incorrect Saifullah Khan said. “Under this new deal, employees will not be entitled to receive Merck’s Stock Option, which formed a sizeable part of employees’ earnings in the past,” he said.

The disgruntled group felt that the multinational that was treated well in Pakistan did not treat its employees fairly when it decided to wrap up and leave the country.

According to the group a petition signed by some 100 employees has been sent to chairman, president and CEO of the company pleading to give third option of redundancy plan to the employees.

Higher-ups in the ministry of health were reluctant to comment for the matter, they said, was between the management and the employees of a company that does not fall in their domain.

Merck announced the divesture of its shares in Merck Sharp and Dohme Pakistan on April 15 by entering into a share sales agreement with a local company Oragon Bio Sciences. This decision includes the divesture of the manufacturing plant as well as entire marketing and sales operations.

As part of the deal, Merck has sold ownership rights to OBS, to manufacture and market its mature products. In case of new products; it has entered into a license agreement, where OBS will market these new products on behalf of Merck.