A building in Jerusalem belonging to generic drug producer Teva.
(photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)
In response to the announcement of massive layoffs amounting to nearly half of the company's Israel staff, hundreds protested Thursday morning outside of Teva pharmaceutical's factory in the northern Israel town of Kiryat Shmona.
Protesters blocked the gate to the factory, while simultaneously employees at a different Teva plant in Neot Hovav gathered at their factory entrance in a separate protest.
On Wednesday, the Histadrut labor federation threatened to launch a general strike on Sunday in response to the planned layoffs.
Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn, at a hastily convened press conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night, said the strike would be held for a few hours on Sunday morning, possibly shuttering government offices, health funds, banks, public transit, the stock exchange and Ben-Gurion Airport, among other places. Teva’s factories would also be closed, he said.
Teva, formerly an iconic Israeli success story, and whose name means “nature” in Hebrew, at one point employed more than 7,000 workers in the country and directly contributed 1.3% of the GDP.
Many of the jobs being cut are highly technical and specialized, with an upper-middle-class salary. They include researchers, chemical engineers and sales professionals, among others, and they likely will be laid off in January, according to the Teva director.