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TN: TTK Pharma Company Retrenches 250 Workers Overnight, Triggers Protests

TTK is selling Human Pharma to Bharat Serum, and the latter is unwilling to follow the recent wage pact.
 TTK Healthcare workers oppose retrenchment. Image credit: Ramesh Sundar

 TTK Healthcare workers oppose retrenchment. Image credit: Ramesh Sundar

TTK Healthcare Limited has retrenched 250 employees overnight in Tamil Nadu while selling its Human Pharma division to Bharat Serums and Vaccines (BSV) Ltd.

Employees of TTK Healthcare have demanded the management withdraw the “illegal” retrenchment order and reinstate the laid-off workers.

Under the leadership of the Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives Association of India (FMRAI), several protests, solidarity meetings and memorandum submissions were organised against the move between May 31 and June 2 in Chennai, the headquarters of TTK Healthcare.

HUMAN PHARMA SOLD

The Chennai-based TTK Healthcare Ltd. sold its Human Pharma division to the multinational Mumbai-based Bharat Serums and Vaccines (BSV) Ltd in March 2022.

The division manufactures pharmaceutical and healthcare products for respiratory, infertility, orthopaedic, cardiology and other ailments. Its turnover was around Rs 160 crore, 25% of the total turnover of the company, for the financial year 2021.

Although it was a profit-making division, TTK Healthcare sold it in a bid to invest in and expand its other core divisions. Besides healthcare, the company is involved in consumer products, personal products, foods, medical devices, animal welfare products, and publications, etc.

NO NOTICE GIVEN

The company employs more than 1,000 Sales Promotion staff across the country to promote its products to medical and other healthcare professionals, of which 250 were retrenched overnight on May 9, 2022.

The TTK management informed the workers that while working out the financial structure of the deal of the transfer, BSV was unwilling to provide them employment; thereby, they were laid off.

“Employees who have put in service in the company for more than 25 years have also been thrown out of jobs and put to great suffering,” reads the statement released by FMRAI.

Krishnan, one of the retrenched workers, told NewsClick, “We were sent an e-mail informing us about the retrenchment. No details were provided. This directly hits our livelihood. Most of the workers are in the middle-age group; there is the dire question of what they would do next and how they would take care of their families.”

The TTK management allegedly did not notify the decision to lay off workers to the Tamil Nadu government or the employees; as per labour law rules, they must be notified in advance.

Section 25F of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, says, “No workman employed in any industry who has been in continuous service for not less than one year under an employer shall be retrenched by that employer until the workman has been given one month' s notice in writing indicating the reasons for retrenchment.”

According to Section 25FF, the same rule is carried forward in the case of transfer of undertakings.

'CHEATING THE WORKERS’

A bilateral wage settlement was signed between the TTK management and the workers on March 19, 2022. Two days later, on March 21, the Human Pharma Division was sold to BSV.

Sukumaran Sourirajan of FMRAI said, “TTK has cited this as an instance of a slump, where a private limited company has incurred loss and is unable to run the company, and sells off its assets and liabilities, and closes down.” He asked, “If it is in loss, how are they selling the company for Rs 300 crores and continuing to sell their products?”

"Moreover, they are taking new recruitments. They want to eliminate the older people who are unionised. The bias is evident, and the intention is clear – they are cheating the workers,” Sourirajan added.

FMRAI accused the TTK management of blatant violation of labour laws, and communicated the same to the state labour department. The department is carrying out an inquiry on the issue.

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