Branch Office Country Gets the Short End of the Stick Again
Merck turned out the lights in its high tech Montreal lab yesterday for the last time. A direct victim of corporate conglomeration and globalization, the lab had employed 180 scientists and staff. The lab closure, announced in July, seems to be yet another instance of Canada failing to be a force to be reckoned with in business internationally. It is also another case of a company headquartered outside of Canada handing us the short end of the stick when push comes to shove.
The Merck lab was one of the few significant research centres run by a pharmaceutical in Canada.
The jobs were axed as a part of a global re-shuffling of the decks, after the merger between Merck and Schering-Plough a year ago. In this multinational game, you have the option to discard when shuffling, and Merck has leaped at the chance to ditch its high-paid Canadian research component and its lab, as well as the entire former Canadian head office building, which will now be too large for the employees left over.
Interviewed in the La Presse story linked above, the President of Merck's Human Health division, Adam Schechter, said that the company will continue to support research in Quebec via partnerships with biotechs and/or university labs, or in other ways. And, according to the article, the company has committed to spend $100 million on research in Quebec over the next five years.
Need we revisit here again the prophetic (and brutally honest) words of former BHP CEO Don Argus, who called Canada a "branch office" country?