China,  Employment Rights,  Israel

Israel/China: Stop governments’ deal to import bonded workers

Cross-posted from LabourStart

Join with Israeli and Hong Kong Workers’ Unions and Human Rights Organizations in their call to end a deal between the Israeli and Chinese Governments that will put migrant workers in a dangerously disadvantaged position. The deal, as it stands, will allow Israel to recruit 20,000 Chinese construction workers via private recruitment agencies.

In order to pay the exorbitant commissions charged by these agencies, Chinese workers will have to commit to massive loans before entering the country, making them more vulnerable to exploitation and abusive employment practices, without protection under Israeli labor law. This call to end the Israeli-Chinese deal comes as a response to the Israeli Government’s decision on September 20, 2015 to permit the importing of workers from China without the precondition of a bilateral trade agreement, which would be overseen by the International Organization for Migration. Israel is a signatory to other bilateral trade agreements, which ensure the rights of migrant workers, and protect them from the exploitative trade of private recruiting companies. However they have chosen not to sign one with China.

According to information gathered in the past, each worker who receives a permit under these types of arrangements (where there is no bilateral trade agreement) is expected to pay up to US $30,000 for their permit. This “Kafala” makes the worker utterly dependent on their boss for the first three years of their tenure in Israel. It prevents them from the possibility of union activity or even equal competition with local workers. Workers’ and Human Rights supporters call upon the Israeli government to speed up new job opportunities for local workers and recruit migrant workers only from countries where Israel has signed a bilateral trade agreement.