Teva workers barricade themselves in Jerusalem plant, burn tires
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Teva workers barricade themselves in Jerusalem plant, burn tires

200 pharma employees and family members lock themselves in facility, prevent managers from leaving as protests against layoffs sweep country

Workers of the Teva company protest against the company plan to lay off hundreds of employees, outside the TEVA Pharmaceutical Industries building in Jerusalem, December 17, 2017. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Workers of the Teva company protest against the company plan to lay off hundreds of employees, outside the TEVA Pharmaceutical Industries building in Jerusalem, December 17, 2017. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Some 200 employees of the generic drugs giant Teva Pharmaceutical Industries barricaded themselves in the Jerusalem factory in protest of planned job cuts of one-quarter of the company’s workforce.

The protesting workers prevented managers from leaving the building, while other people — including relatives of the employees — burned tires outside, according to Hebrew reports.

Teva plans to lay off some 1,750 workers across the country and shut down the two plants in the capital.

Rallies against the move were held in Jerusalem, the coastal cities of Ashdod and Netanya, and the central Israel city of Petah Tikva on Sunday.

Demonstrators briefly blocked the entrance to the capital before police removed them from the highway.

In Ashdod, the employees were torching tires outside the local Teva offices. Demonstrators also disrupted traffic in Petah Tikva.

Workers of the Teva company protest against the company plan to lay off hundreds of employees, outside the TEVA Pharmaceutical Industries building in Jerusalem, December 17, 2017 (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

A massive solidarity strike with the Teva workers paralyzed the country’s public sector from 8 a.m. until noon.

The strike — the biggest to hit the country in several years — shut down banks, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, post offices, government offices, the Knesset, ports, airports, insurance companies, the courts, post offices, phone companies, Israel Electric Corporation, health services, universities, local municipalities and regional councils, along with Teva facilities across the country.

The entrance to the offices of the Israeli drug company TEVA Pharmaceutical Industries in Jerusalem, with a banner saying “no entry,” December 17, 2017. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Ports remained closed until 2 p.m.

The company’s restructuring plan, announced last week, will see the firing of 14,000 Teva workers worldwide over the next two years, more than a quarter of Teva’s global workforce of over 55,000. In Israel, 1,750 employees, roughly one-quarter of its local workforce, were poised to lose their jobs.

Teva has been saddled with debt after its $40 billion acquisition of the generics arm of rival Allergan was completed last year.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries employees protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem against the company’s plan to lay off hundreds of workers, December 17, 2017.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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

AFP contributed to this report.

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