Israeli workers strike nationwide to protest Teva layoffs


Israel's main public-sector labour union staged a half-day strike on Sunday, closing the airport, stock exchange, banks and all government ministries to protest at mass layoffs planned by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.

The company's restructuring plan, announced last week, will see the firing of 14,000 Teva workers worldwide over the next two years, more than a quarter of Teva's global workforce of over 55,000.

Some 1,700 jobs will be cut and a manufacturing site will be closed in Israel.

The strike - the largest labor action to hit the country in several years - closed down down almost all parts of the public sector from 8 midday.

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Teva employees also protest at Ashdod facility. Demonstrators sat in the middle of streets and crosswalks, halting traffic in a number of cities. In addition to the layoffs, Teva plans to suspend its dividend on ordinary shares.

Many flights set to depart on Sunday morning were rescheduled to leave earlier so only seven flights were cancelled due to the strike, the sources said. Service started up again at the airport at noon, with flights expected to resume around 2:30 p.m.

Public transportation services, including the country's bus and rail services, will not be effected.

"I spoke with [Teva CEO Kare Schultz] last week and told him that our main goal first and foremost is to minimize the damage to workers", said Netanyahu. Some beat drums and carried placards blaming Teva's management for the crisis.

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A statement from his office said Netanyahu was aiming to "reduce the damage to workers, do everything possible to avoid the closure of the factory in Jerusalem, and ensure Teva remained an Israeli firm". It employs thousands of workers. He did not elaborate.

The company has been hit hard by the expiration of patents on its blockbuster drug, Copaxone, price pressure on its core business of generic drugs and a $35 billion debt load from its purchase of the generics business of Allergan.

Its two-year restructuring plan is meant to reduce Teva's cost base by $3 billion by the end of 2019, out of an estimated cost base for 2017 of $16.1 billion. The strike encompasses almost all public workers and members of the Histadrut, as the union expresses its solidarity with the 1,700 Teva workers who are to be put out of a job.

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