In a series of posts based on field visits and meetings with migrant workers in Israel, Noa Shauer and Shiraz Grinbaum highlight the conditions, hardships and exploitation of foreign workers. In part 2, a Thai worker and labor organizer at Moshav Sde Nitzan is deported for organizing a strike over working conditions.
Read part 1 here
Text: Noa Shuar
Photos: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org
Thai workers on a tractor on the way to start their working day, early hours of October 18, 2013. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)
Moshav Sde Nitzan is located in the northwestern Negev, a part of the Eshkol Local Authority. The moshav, a farming community, is made up of some 80 families, as well as 157 foreign workers from Thailand who work in agriculture. Following a request by the foreign workers there, staff from ‘Kav Laoved – Workers’ Hotline’ toured the grounds of the Moshav on September 10. We discovered that the workers had begun a strike to protest their low pay and late payment of their salaries. The workers had been receiving NIS 120 for an eight-hour work day and NIS 17 for an overtime hour, even though the minimum wage per non-overtime hour in Israel is NIS 23.11, and pay for overtime hours is 125 percent of one’s hourly salary for the first two hours. With a minimum wage salary, for instance, the hourly wage for overtime is NIS 28.88 per hour.
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Kav LaOved instructed the workers to compile a list of demands for their employers, and specifically to demand a fair daily wage. They first demanded a NIS 130 daily wage, but Kav LaOved explained to them that this amount was significantly lower than the legal minimum wage, and that it was their responsibility to demand at least what is guaranteed by law. The workers then tried to demand minimum wage, but it was too late – on the same day of the strike, the employers agreed to raise the daily wage of the foreign workers to NIS 130 per day and to NIS 20 per overtime hour.
When the employers reported the strike to the agency responsible for bringing the foreign workers into Israel, the agency decided to send representatives directly to the moshav. They located the worker who they believed was the...Read More