Photo Credit: Flash90
Teva employees protesting outside the pharmaceutical giant's plant in Ashdod, December 17, 2017.

A general strike is taking place throughout the Israeli economy, which the Histadrut national labor union announced last week, in solidarity with thousands of Teva workers who are demonstrating Sunday morning outside the company’s plants in Jerusalem, Ashdod, Kfar Sava and Netanya, protesting the company’s expected 1,7000 layoffs.

In Jerusalem, dozens of Teva employees blocked major roads in the Har Hatzvim area, and finally agreed to evacuate the road at the request of police officers and Mayor Nir Barkat.

Teva employees protesting outside the pharmaceutical giant’s plant in Ashdod, December 17, 2017. / Flash90

In Ashdod the demonstrators burn tires.

Hundreds of thousands of workers in Israel did not report to their workplaces Sunday morning, while all the activities of Teva in Israel have been stopped. The strike will continue until noon, Sunday, and many services are closed, including all government ministries, banks, airports and harbors, and the courts. Public transportation continues to operate as usual.

The protests of Teva’s employees are also taking place at Ashdod, Kfar Saba and Netanya.

The demonstrators in Jerusalem reached the government compound and are blocking local roads in preparation for the arriving cabinet ministers who will be arriving for the weekly government meeting.

In Petah Tikva, dozens of demonstrators are blocking the Jabotinsky artery in the city, one of the most important roads in the metro area, with signs reading, “There is no medicine to cure the layoffs.” In Ashdod, demonstrators held signs reading, “Teva is causing a natural disaster” (a play on the word Teva meaning Nature).

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. The number of laid-off workers in Israel will be 1,700 by 2019, of whom 850 will come from the Jerusalem plants.

Histadrut Chairman Avi Nissenkorn said on Saturday that “it is unthinkable that we remain silent over such a wave of layoffs.” Calling on the government to intervene in the crisis, Nissenkorn noted that “Teva received 22 billion shekel ($6.3 billion) from the state and now it spits in her face – and it will continue to enjoy the same tax benefits on the savings of the layoffs in the years to come! This cannot be ignored.”