Teva workers protest layoffs as solidarity strike grinds country to halt

Teva workers protest layoffs as solidarity strike grinds country to halt

Israel's labor union launched a four-hour nationwide strike Sunday in a show of protest against large-scale layoffs planned by pharmaceutical giant Teva.

Hundreds of workers from drug-maker giant Teva Pharmaceutical Industries on Sunday rallied against plans to fire some 1,750 Israeli employees - some one-quarter of its local workforce - in demonstrations held across the country.

The strike began at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT/UTC) and affected airports, shipping ports, hospitals, banks and government offices.

The protest comes against the backdrop of Teva's program of streamlining and layoffs published last week: over the next two years, 14,000 workers worldwide will be fired, about 25% of the company's workforce.

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.

Public transportation services, including the country's bus and rail services, will not be effected. Demonstrators blocked traffic at the entrance to Jerusalem outside the prime minister's office as the Cabinet was convening, and at the entrance to the Teva plant.

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At a weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that he is going to meet with Teva's Danish boss Kare Schultz during the coming week.

"We will execute this plan in a timely and prudent manner, remaining focused on revenue and cash flow generation, in order to make sure Teva is ready to meet all of its financial commitments", said Schultz in the letter. The Israeli leader has said he would do everything possible to minimize the impact of Teva's decision on local workers and keep the company operating in Israel. Last week, the chairman of Israel's Securities Authority said it will not allow companies whose value is dependent on the bitcoin to be included in the indices of the Tel Aviv Stock exchange.

The acquisition has been accompanied by low prices for generics, particularly in the United States, a major market.

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.

Teva expects to save $3 billion by the end of 2019 with the two-year restructuring plan.

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