More and more politicians are calling on the government to prevent the firing of hundreds of workers in some of Israel's largest companies.
Knesset Finance Committee Chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) has invited Teva CEO Jeremy Levin to a special discussion scheduled for Wednesday. "If the first step these companies take to increase efficiency is firing workers, then it is unacceptable," said Slomiansky. "I am working to reduce and even cancel these termination measures."
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The Finance Committee chair said he was surprised to learn of Teva's plan to fire some 800 of its employees in Israel. "Behind every worker there is an entire family, Slomiansky said, adding that Teva has been given extensive benefits from the State over the past few years and therefore must be obligated to its workers, "who are citizens of the State of Israel."
Last week it was reported that the pharmaceutical giant was planning to reduce its global workforce by 10% in 2014. As part of the plan, 700-800 of its workers in Israel are expected to be fired, despite the fact that the company has received NIS 11.77 billion ($3.32B) in tax breaks from 2006 to 2011. In addition, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. reported $4.9 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2013.
Teva CEO Jeremy Levin (Photo: Sivan Farag)
Finance Committee member Gila Gamliel (Likud-Beiteinu) called to cancel the tax breaks given to companies planning mass layoffs. "It is our duty to prevent these layoffs," she said Tuesday. "The tax breaks given to these companies could have funded many activities in the market that would have benefited the citizens of Israel and would have created more jobs.
"I would expect the executives in these companies to slash their exorbitant salaries before hurting junior employees," she said.
Knesset Member Miri Regev (Likud-Beiteinu) said: "It cannot be that the State grants extensive tax breaks to large companies but does not supervise or lay out clear conditions vis-à-vis employment and these companies' contribution to the market.
"If there are crises in these companies, the first thing that should be done is reduce the executives' salaries," she said.
MK Merav Michaeli (Labor) also addressed the issue, saying the current incentives offered by the State encourage "greediness" of the large corporations. "We respect entrepreneurs and companies, but we oppose greediness and exploitation," she said.
Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich dedicated a large part of her speech during the opening of the Knesset's winter session on Tuesday to the planned layoffs, which she referred to as a "mass terror attack." She urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "tell Teva's CEO that he is not firing anyone."
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