[OPE-L] The labour troubles in Israel

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sun Feb 25 2007 - 07:56:28 EST

A general strike is inevitable, Histadrut labor federation leaders said
yesterday, due to the failure of the government and the local authorities to
pay wages to tens of thousands of workers.

Recently, the National Labor Tribunal had accepted a petition from the
Manufacturers' Association, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and the
Israel Airports Authority, seeking an order that would force the Histadrut
labor federation to call off a strike. The Labour Court gave employers some
time to settle wage payments in arrears.

How about the "foreign" workers? Here's a clip from Ha'aretz:

Almost 200,000 unemployed Israelis registered with the Employment Service
could replace the foreign workers in construction, farming, industry,
catering and nursing, Employment Service director general Esther Dominicini
told the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers yesterday.

Some of the unemployed Israelis would have to be trained for these
professions, but they are healthy and able to work, she said. Dominicini
outlined a plan to replace some of the 85,000 legal foreign laborers,
following the government's decision to phase them out.

Eilat hotels currently employ some 500 migrant workers, but will be
prohibited from employing them from March 1. The hoteliers say they need
1,500 Israelis to replace them, because each foreigner does the work of
three Israelis.

Complete article http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/826625.html

The official unemployment rate in Israel is about 10.9% (seasonally
adjusted), or 291,000 unemployed aged 15+ as against an estimated 2.4
million employed; according to some unofficial estimates there are anywhere
between 180,000 and 260,000 foreign workers in Israel, of whom probably over
half entered with work to go to. Average wages are lowest in agriculture and
restaurants/accommodation services and highest in banking/insurance/finance
(the difference in average wages is about 4x). There are possibly about 1.7
million non-Jews living in Israel out of an official total population of 7.1
million, i.e. three quarters are classified as Jews, 20% Arabs, the rest
"other" cf. http://www1.cbs.gov.il/ Because of the large amount of illegal
money & people in Israel, the data should be treated with some caution.

In August, 2003, the International Federation for Human Rights, together
with the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, reported that
approximately 300,000 foreign workers live in Israel, 60 percent of them
illegally. Half are from Asia (China, Thailand, the Philippines), 45 percent
from Eastern Europe (mainly Romania and Moldovia), and the rest from African
and Latin American countries. Of those who have legal work permits, 32,000
work in construction, 40,000 as caregivers to the elderly or disabled,
32,000 in agriculture, 5,000 in industry, 3,000 in service industries, 1,000
in hotels. In 2003, 11,400 women migrant workers entered the country, 38% of
the foreign workers entering the work force. In a survey of 1,400 upper
middle-class families in Israel (Ha'aretz, April 9, 2004) 98 percent
employed foreign workers without a legal work permit (despite threats of a
10,000-shekel fine!), with 55 percent employed as house cleaners, 32 percent
as home builders or renovators, nine percent as movers, two percent as
nannies. http://www.jewishcurrents.org/2004-july-susser.htm


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