At the Knesset's opening meeting of the winter session on Monday, Labor Party chairwoman MK Shelly Yachimovich slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not mentioning the layoffs at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA). "800 families mean thousands of people in Israel who have been suddenly thrown into despair and poverty. This is a massive attack."
Yachimovich continued, "You are their prime minister. Get out of here, go call Jeremy Levin and ask him not to fire even one worker at Teva. You above all know that you have all the means for negotiating with him. These are layoffs at a company that pays almost zero taxes is an act of cannibalism. There is no other word.
"I've read the reports from Wall Street about layoffs worldwide. There were cheers and handclapping over workers losing their livelihoods. This is an arena of gladiators. Teva's profit is expected to be around $5 billion in 2013. How does this settle with the CEO receiving a salary of NIS 15 million a year? This is how good, contributing, developing Israeli industry looks when it loses its conscious and vision. Its founder, Eli Hurvitz, would not have let this happen.
"I ask you, finance minister, when you met Jeremy Levin at a social gathering, and asked him if was prepared to pay taxes like every business in Israel, what did he say? And when you left, and said loudly that the rules of the game should be changed, what did you mean? After all, a moment later, you imposed taxes on small and mid-sized businesses. What did you mean by changing the rules of the game? That they too should pay no taxes and brutally fire workers? I am interested in knowing who on the board of directors voted against. Did you consider, Teva directors, to use the money you've amassed over the years to keep workers who are flesh of your flesh in good times too? Phillip Frost also gets reimbursed for travel - not for bus fare, but for use of his private jet. Did someone at Teva raise the idea that management should also pay a price, and not just minimum wage workers? Why isn't Teva paying the companies tax? To create jobs."
Commenting on the report by "Globes" deputy editor Eli Tsipori on Sunday, Yachimovich said, "Eli Tsipori did accurate math. In the past few years Teva received NIS 12 billion from us. Tell me, does this seem normal to you? This is the amount for one worker. What marvelous things could have been done with this money.
"Teva has grossly violated its contract with the state. It is demonstrating an utter lack of solidarity, commitment to society, and gratitude. It is you, sir, who gave them all this. After all, you gave them the complete tax exemption. You paved the way for them to leave Israel, not to mention the fact that the gifts were not given in a fair deal. We won't let 800 workers be fired from Teva. We won't allow negotiations on retirement terms. We won't forgive trapped profits, we won't waive a normal tax. Prime minister and finance minister, we won't let you do this. To all those watching, I say, don’t lend a hand to these cannibalistic layoffs. They will soon be joined by layoffs at Oil Refineries Ltd. (TASE:ORL). Tell the prime minister and Lapid what you think. I saw the prime minister's smile during my speech, and I hope it's because you intend to come to the dais and say something about Teva. And if not, these layoffs won't happen."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 15, 2013
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