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