Israel grinds to a halt in strike over Teva layoffs

Large part of Israeli services to grind to a halt as general strike aims at stopping pharmaceutical giant Teva from firing 1,700 workers.

Tzvi Lev,

Teva offices
Teva offices
Flash90

A large part of Israel will grind to a halt on Sunday, as the Histadrut labor union called for a general strike to protest pharmaceutical giant Teva's plan to fire 1,700 employees.

The strike will include all of Teva's factories, local municipalities, water plants, all of the banks, the Israel Electric Corporation, Israel Post, the National Insurance Institute, the government ministries, the Knesset, and the Tax Authority.

Ben Gurion Airport will also be affected, and several flights were moved up in order to enable them to take off before the strike begins at 8:00. Public transportation will still run in order to accommodate IDF soldiers returning to base after Shabbat leave.

Workers at the two Teva plants that are scheduled to be closed are expected to block traffic and demonstrate outside the factories. "We will protest until we got something in writing saying we won’t be fired," an employee said. "We’ll sleep in the plant, we'll blockade ourselves in and shut down the city."

Teva announced last week that they planned to fire 1,700 workers in Israel and close down two factories. Histadrut Chairman immediatly called a strike to protest the layoffs, which he likened to a "terror attack. We are fighting for the workers of Teva, to save the industry in Israel and to support blue and white,” Nissenkorn said at a press conference. "Organized labor has been enlisted and is sending a clear message."

"The solidarity strike to save Israel's industry sends a clear message of mutual responsibility and support of Israeli businesses. It shows our insistence that workers be treated as human beings, and it protests the silence of anyone who abuses government resources and sends thousands of families into the cycle of welfare stipends."

Teva received billions in tax breaks before the law granting such breaks to businesses to encourage investment in Israel and not in countries with cheaper labor, similar to Donald Trump's tax cuts for businesses, was amended in 2013 to stipulate the condition that workers' jobs are guaranteed. In the meanwhile, Teva's board of directors voted to acquire another company at the cost of 40 billion dollars which turned out to be a drastic error in judgment, and is the main reason for the company's financial problems. The tax breaks and the directorate's disastrous acquisition are fueling the fire of protests.

On Thursday, Teva employees protested outside the company's Jerusalem factory, following the announcement that Teva would layoff thousands of employees.


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