The Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) workers committee in Kfar Saba has begun taking industrial action as part of the work dispute declared even before the company announced its planned layoffs yesterday.
"In the past hour, members of the workers committee have visited the production and packaging lines, taken the managers off the lines and halted operations," Eliran Kozlik, chairman of the workers committee at Teva's Kfar Saba plant, told "Globes."
Yesterday, Teva announced that there would be layoffs as part of its reorganization process. No numbers were mentioned regarding layoffs but estimates are that 350 workers at the Kfar Saba and Teva Tech Ramat Hovav plants will lose their jobs.
Kozlik says that for a long time Teva's employees have felt, "a lack of appreciation and that they are working under threat of layoffs." The work dispute in Kfar Saba was declared a month ago due to claims of negligent conduct by management and unilateral harm to labor relations. Yesterday the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) declared a work dispute at all nine Teva plants in Israel where 6,000 employees are members of the Israeli trade union.
"The workers have expressed full confidence in the workers committee and are reporting disinformation from the company. How can there be a shortfall in manpower and the management has decided to fire people? It's a scandalous decision designed to change the share price," Kozlik said. "In Kfar Saba there are production and packaging workers that don't earn high salaries like senior executives and shift workers. They give everything and 12.7% of Teva's profits come from Kfar Saba, which is the company's most strategically important site. Before touching the most valuable manpower, there is much else to do for savings and improvement."
What, for example?
"Contract workers. Teva brings workers that are not recorded in the headcount and then presents the number of employees per tablet in standard production. In practice they do the same work as a Teva employee and receive a salary three or four times higher."
"In addition, the company distributes big bonuses. It should not happen that the simple worker pays the price for failure. Management must pay the price. All those who sat on the management committee are those who took Teva's failed decisions. And those no longer in management received huge amounts when they left. First of all let the management demonstrate a personal example.
Why do you think that Teva decided to fire people at Kfar Saba and Teva Tech?
"Those are Teva's biggest plants in Israel. With the workers committees that have the biggest influence. In my opinion, Teva is checking the pulse to see how things work out and will then continue to the other plants."
You said that the workers have expressed full confidence in the workers committee. What do you hear from the plant's managers?
"Managers tell us openly that we are right that the senior managers don't understand what is happening on the factory floor. More than once I've told senior management 'come and see the workers.' There is a complete rift. I call on management to come down to the factory floor because there is a complete rift and it is simply inconceivable to see - at a time when they are also hiring people in Kfar Saba. It is absurd."
Teva's share price has fallen 52% from its peak two years ago when the company reported the acquisition of Actavis, Allergan's generics division, for $40 billion. Shortly afterwards Teva also acquired Mexican company Rimsa in a deal that is going through the US courts with Teva claiming it was deceived. Those two deals forced former CEO Erez Vigodman to leave Teva in February amid the backdrop of a crisis of confidence on the stock market.
To complete the Actavis acquisition, Teva raised debt which has reached $35 million today. In recent months, Teva has worked on a number of levels to focus on lowering debt and improving its ability to repay that debt.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 24, 2017
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