Ofer Eini, chairman of the Histadrut labor federation, and Jeremy Levin, president of Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva, agreed on Tuesday that planned employee layoffs at the company would be frozen.
Layoffs would be carried out only following an agreement between the company and the labor federation, they said.
Eini said that there would be negotiations with the Petah Tikva-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries in which the number of employees to be laid off would be decided.
Teva last week announced a planned wave of dismissals that could see up to 800 people in Israel lose their jobs. The company said it would fire 5,000 employees worldwide, a 10th of its workforce, as part of “steps to accelerate the reduction of costs and to optimize its structure and processes.”
Most of the layoffs would be completed by the end of 2014. Nearly all of Teva’s employees in Israel are members of the Histadrut.
At a press conference Eini called ahead of the meeting on Tuesday, he told reporters that he received a phone call from Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Monday evening, who told him that he “saw eye-to-eye” with the union chief on his opposition to the Teva firings. Lapid expressed the hope that by joining forces they could prevent this measure from coming into effect, Eini said.
Eini told reporters it was incumbent on the government to reinstate a clause in the Law on Encouragement of Capital Investments that restricts the dismissal of employees by a company receiving tax exemptions from the state.
“There’s no doubt that Teva is a successful company,” he said. “It’s a company that makes billions, and I am confident that at the end of the process we will be able to safeguard Teva employees and ensure that the company stays strong.”
Lapid said on Sunday that he had spoken with Levin and that the two men had agreed upon a channel of dialogue. The finance minister stressed that the tax breaks that Teva enjoyed in Israel required it to take note of the Treasury’s demands.