At least one commenter, in the "employees only" briefing -- held shortly after the external Q4 2009 earnings conference call, says so. The employee claims that CEO Dick Clark has actually put the number of layoffs at over 20,000. That's up from the external 17,500 he mentioned to Wall Street, on the earnings call. And that 17,500 figure, is itself, up from the earlier 16,000 announced at bust-up closing time (Novemeber 3, 2009).
And that total would not include any spinoff, or other transactional layoffs, or already discussed plant and facility closings. So, 28,000 might be closer to the right number, inclusive of those items. Here is a link to that comment [edited for context and clarity] -- and a snippet:
. . . .In the employee business briefing, [CEO Dick Clark] said the following:
15,000 cuts due to merger
And 3,000 positions not to be filled
And another 2,500 cuts -- due to current initiatives (that's 20,500 jobs cut so far).
He also stated that [the 20,500] doesn't include future cuts from known plant closings and consolidations of duplicate functions (not included in the original 15,000) but the majority of Merck and SGP persons will be kept.
In [the commenter's] sarcastic view of [Merck], that means that they only need to keep 50.1% of each company's employees. . . .
Interesting. It would be a sub-optimal practice -- from a securities disclosure and compliance perspective -- to make inconsistent statements (or at least differing ones) about a material matter like layoff totals, internally, as compared to less dire ones, externally -- for Wall Street consumption.