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Japan Tobacco staff protest over job cuts

Affected JTI staff are unhappy with the proposed resettlement package, and management’s lack of transparency about job cuts and future plans.

Almost 100 Japan Tobacco International (JTI) staff protested outside their Geneva headquarters on Tuesday against job cuts. Around a quarter of the Geneva workforce are affected by major restructuring plans.

Last month the multinational firm behind cigarette brands like Winston, Camel and Benson & Hedges confirmed restructuring plans and job cuts. Some 268 posts out of 1,100 are due to be cut at the Geneva headquarters. Some may be relocated to east Asia and eastern Europe, JTI says.

On Tuesday, 80 staff gathered outside the spectacular glass headquarters building in Geneva’s international district to protest and share concerns.

Staff told Keystone-SDA of their disappointment at management’s treatment of affected workers. They complained about a proposed resettlement package, which is said to be well below accepted standards, and JTI’s lack of transparency about the cuts and future plans.

The company, which employs 45,000 people worldwide and has been based in Geneva since 2015, has reiterated its commitment to remain headquartered in Geneva.

Worldwide cuts at JTI are expected to affect 3,720 employees or 6% of the workforce. The multinational will concentrate its resources on three sites: Warsaw, St Petersburg and Manila. The move comes after 18 months of analysis of the company’s operation in a bid to improve competitiveness.

Negotiations are reportedly continuing between management and employee representatives to try to improve the situation. Counter-proposals have been made by staff and responses are expected soon, Unia Regional Secretary Alessandro Pelizzari told Keystone-SDA.

Declining sales, especially in Japan, have hurt the company’s bottom line in recent years.

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