Economy Minister Eli Cohen said Teva's employees should not pay for the company's failed investments overseas. The strike will continue until noon, Sunday, and many services are closed, including all government ministries, banks, airports and harbors, and the courts.
Debt-ridden Teva, one of Israel's largest companies and the world's largest generics drugmaker, said last week it would cut its global workforce by more than a quarter, or 14,000 jobs.
The Histadrut is calling on workers across the economy to power down machinery and walk out in protest of proposed cuts at Teva, as negotiating leverage and to pressure the company.
In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Schultz said action was needed to ensure Teva's future.
They briefly blocked a main road in Jerusalem before heading to the Teva factory, which has been occupied in protest. The second thing, of course, is to do everything possible to prevent the closure of plants in Jerusalem. Last week, the chairman of Israel's Securities Authority said it will not allow companies whose value is dependent on the bitcoin to be included in the indices of the Tel Aviv Stock exchange.
"It started as an Israeli company and we want it to remain as an Israeli company", Netanyahu said.
"We will execute this plan in a timely and prudent manner, remaining focused on revenue and cash flow generation, in order to make sure Teva is ready to meet all of its financial commitments". Teva's management announced the planned firing of employees worldwide, including over 3,000 in Israel. The strike encompasses almost all public workers and members of the Histadrut, as the union expresses its solidarity with the 1,700 Teva workers who are to be put out of a job.
"We are fighting for the workers of Teva, to save the industry in Israel and to support blue and white", said Nissenkorn.
Saddled with almost $35 billion in debt since acquiring Allergan's (AGN.N) Actavis generic drug business for $40.5 billion, Teva made a series of changes after Kare Schultz joined as its new chief executive on November 1.
Its two-year restructuring plan is meant to reduce Teva's cost base by $3 billion by the end of 2019, out of an estimated cost base for 2017 of $16.1 billion.
In the USA generics market, which has suffered from price declines in the past year, Schultz expects further price erosion overall in 2018.
"Teva has succeeded thanks to grants and tax benefits it received from the state and thanks to developments by Israeli scientists", he said, adding: "We will fight for every employee".