MKs: Teva Firings Could Trigger ‘Examination’ of its Tax Breaks

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Teva Pharmaceutical Logistic Center in the town of Shoham. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty, File)

Teva has promised that it will not fire workers immediately, MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, Chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee said in an interview Friday. “Teva’s situation is bad all over the world, but it appears that the largest group of workers to be fired will be in the United States, not Israel,” he told Yediot Acharonot. MK Rabbi Gafni said he had discussed the possible firings of up to 1,700 workers in Israel, and told them that if the mass firings took place, the government would examine the possibility of demanding in return the tax breaks that have been granted to the company over the years.

According to widespread reports Thursday, Teva is planning on shedding as many as 1,700 Israeli workers. The firings are part of Teva’s plan to revitalize itself after recent losses. The number constitutes as much as a quarter of Teva’s workforce in Israel. The plan, which is still being developed, could see workers in the company’s American operation fired as well.

MK Rabbi Gafni said that the company had promised not to fire workers without first reviewing the situation with him. “If there are firings I will know about them first,” he told Yediot Acharonot. “We will have to wait and see what happens.” Teva had no comment on the report, Yediot Acharonot said.

MK Rabbi Gafni was not the only one to bring up the issue of the tax breaks granted Teva to build factories and development centers in Israel, especially in peripheral areas. MK Itzik Shmueli (Zionist Camp), a member of the Knesset Labor Committee, told Israel Radio that “This matter is teaching Israelis in how to be ‘hoggish.’ They got NIS 6 billion in tax benefits, and in return they are firing hundreds of workers. A major action of this kind requires cooperation with workers and other factors, and not just the decision of one side.”

MK Amir Peretz (Zionist Camp) said that while everyone understood the troubles Teva was currently facing, “it is our job to worry about Israeli workers. The Knesset successfully intervened in a previous wave of firings, reducing the number of firings significantly, and we will try even harder this time.”

In a statement, the Histadrut labor union said that “under no circumstances will we accept a one-sided decision by management to fire workers. Firings will be done only with the agreement of the union and workers’ committees. Teva’s workers are the company’s human resources and their most important resource. Firing workers is a last resort.”

Teva has experienced numerous reversals in recent months, the most serious being the loss of the generic drug company’s patent on multiple sclerosis treatment Copaxone, which alone was responsible for a fifth of the company’s revenues in 2016. Teva had been fighting for years to maintain its patent on Copaxone, but a ruling by the Delaware District Court in January stripped the company of its exclusive patents. After its latest report for the third quarter of 2017 earlier in November, Teva shares fell 20 percent. Share prices are down some 60 percent since August.