Biogen Luterbach: New Jobs with lousy conditions
by FAU Schweiz
The working conditions in the cleaning department at Biogen's new production site in Luterbach are miserable. Workers from Enzler Reinigung tell of incorrect hourly billing, low wages, non-compliance with safety regulations and the resulting accidents at work. The situation in Luterbach is so serious that the three organizations Reinigungskollektiv Solothurn, FAU Switzerland and IWW JAM were mandated by the workers to call in the Solothurn Labor Inspectorate.
At the beginning of June, Biogen's new production site in Luterbach was in the news after Swissmedic approved its Alzheimer's drug. The canton of Solothurn expected up to 600 new jobs. The question is at what price. For several months, the cleaning collective and the two grassroots unions FAU Switzerland and IWW JAM have been meeting with workers who work for Enzler Reinigung AG at Biogen in Luterbach. At these meetings, the workers talked about many aspects of their stressful work situation, which are simply unacceptable and even violate the labor law.
The cleaning workers reported that hours are regularly missing from their time sheets. The monthly schedule is only announced the weekend before the first assignment. Often, workers with a lower classification are used for specialized work, without the appropriate training and without additional payment for this work. However, the handling of health protection at Enzler is a particularly serious issue. The time pressure at the workplace means that machines sometimes have to be cleaned while the plant is in operation. Workers told of burns resulting from involuntary contact with the hot machines. Particularly at pharmaceutical sites such as Luterbach, strict cleanliness is indispensable, which is why strong chemicals are used at these sites. From our discussions with the workers, it was clear that the protective materials and measures were often insufficient, which had already led to serious incidents with hospitalizations. For these reasons, the cleaning collective, FAU Switzerland and IWW JAM were asked by the workers to request the Solothurn Labor Inspectorate to carry out inspections.
Fight for better working conditions
Already on April 29, 2021, banners could be seen at the Luterbach site, drawing attention to the precarious situation of the cleaning workers. The demands of the cleaning workers were also present at the demonstration on May 1 in Solothurn, in which around 400 people took part. The cleaning collective, the FAU Switzerland and the IWW JAM want to improve working conditions in cleaning at Biogen and throughout Switzerland. The fight for this has now begun!
FAU Switzerland - Free Workers Union Switzerland
IWW JAM - Industrial Workers of the World, Jura Alpen Mittelland