Over 700 jobs to go at Apoteket

640 cleaners working at Apoteket AB are to lose their jobs as the company implements a major dose of cost savings.

According to TT, the first half of 2005 was not a good one for Sweden’s state-run pharmacy monopoly. Now the organisation has decided to outsource administrative work and certain other activities – and the workers’ representatives are not happy.

“We think it is pitiful the way Apoteket has chosen to deal with the problem,” said Ulrika Emteryd of the pharmacy workers’ union.

“They have decided to let go of people instead of creating cooperation between a contract firm and employees,” she told Swedish Radio.

Thony Björk, Apoteket’s head of information, told TT that many of those who will lose their jobs have worked in the company for many years.

“That is why the redundancies will be carried out with the utmost care on our part. We are discussing different support measures with the union,” said Björk.

Apart from the cleaners, other 100 employees, from local and main offices, will also lose their jobs. Other employees such as pharmacists and cashiers will not be affected by the new measures, but risk having their workload increased.

“We think it is a waste of resources when pharmacists have to sit by the cashiers instead of using their competence in the intended way – medicinal guidance,” said Ulrika Emteryd.

Besides becoming more cost-effective, Apoteket must deal with long queues and short opening hours, after being criticised by the EU court last spring. Ylva Johansson, health care minister, has also said that she will consider allowing the sale of non-prescription drugs in food stores.

But that, according to Thony Björk, would only worsen Apoteket’s economic crisis.

“Our finances today are dependant of the sales of merchandise and not prescription drugs. If we are to compete with food stores selling non-prescriptions drugs, we will certainly see a fall in revenue,” stated Björk.