JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, one of the largest manufacturers of generic drugs in the world, will lay off 14,000 workers as part of a global restructuring, or 25 percent of its workforce.
Teva made the announcement on Thursday. The cuts will take place over the next two years, with most in 2018, The Associated Press reported.
After the cuts are completed, only 8 percent of Teva’s employees will be Israeli, the Israeli business daily Globes reported. Teva, based in Petach Tikvah, is the country’s largest private sector employer with nearly 7,000 employees in Israel. The cuts will reduce the number to about 4,000.
Teva stock has fallen 60 percent in the past year. The company also took a hit from the expiration of its patents on Copaxone, its drug for multiple sclerosis, and is struggling under a $35 billion debt from its acquisition of Allergan’s Anda generic drug division.
The company’s Israeli headquarters are expected to be significantly affected, AP reported.
Israel’s main labor federation, the Histadrut, has called for a half-day general strike on Sunday to protest the layoffs.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday spoke with Teva CEO Kare Schultz, who was hired six weeks ago to turn the company’s fortunes.
According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu asked Schultz to minimize the damage to Israeli workers, especially in the periphery of the country where two Teva factories reportedly will close.
Schultz said he would make a “supreme effort” to reduce the damage to the company’s employees, the statement said.
Netanyahu also asked Schultz to do everything possible to preserve Teva’s identity as an Israeli company, according to the statement.