3.8 C
December 5, 2022

Cantacuzino Institute employees stage spontaneous strike

Over one hundred employees of Bucharest’s Cantacuzino Institute stopped work yesterday and gathered in front of the institution to protest against possible layoffs after several production departments were closed. The standoff began after Cantacuzino lost its vaccine manufacturing authorisation earlier this year. Last month, the government vowed to allocate RON 1 M (over EUR 230,000) to the institute to allow it to undertake necessary modernisation processes in order to obtain a new authorisation by April 15.

But this did not happen and the institute also lacks money to pay its employees, union leader Dumitru Viezureanu said yesterday, quoted by Mediafax agency. Moreover, employees were forced to pay RON 8 M (EUR 1.9 M) for the fact the institute did not manufacture season flu vaccines although it wasn’t their fault, he added. The National Medicine Agency’s decision to withdraw its authorisation left the Cantacuzino Institute unable to manufacture pandemic and tuberculosis BCG vaccines.

Employees are afraid they will be left without jobs after the BCG production line was stopped and only 13 people still work here, according to a production manager with the institute, Margareta Mazilu, quoted by Agerpres. She added that 45 people work on flu vaccine production.

“People are also afraid because there is only enough salary money for the next two months and they are afraid they will be fired if the BCG vaccine will be imported, as the Health Ministry announced,” Viezureanu said. A Health Ministry adviser, Geza Molnar, went to Cantacuzino to have talks with employees and institute management.

Since the institute failed to take modernisation measures required by the agency until April 15, Health Minister decided to dismiss institute head Radu Iordachel last Friday. Iordachel was replaced with microbiology specialist Gabriel Ionescu. “Cantacuzino Institute does not manufacture anything at the moment because they are not authorised to. (…) As for the season vaccine, most problems have been solved and they will probably start production on May 15, to manufacture vaccines for the coming winter. (…) But on the BCG vaccine production line, there are big problems and the conformity plan was not observed. A new plan must be developed by the new leadership,” Cseke said at the time.

Moreover, recent press reports said the government is planning to purchase up to one million BCG vaccines from abroad since the institute lost the right to manufacture them. The Health Ministry was hoping the institute to have regained authorisation until now, as this month marks the beginning of a new tuberculosis immunisation campaign for new-born babies.

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