JANUARY 21, 2015
(Jerusalem) – Thai agricultural workers in Israel face serious labor rights abuses because Israeli authorities are failing to enforce their own laws, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Israeli authorities should take immediate steps to improve its enforcement mechanisms and investigate whether unsatisfactory living and working conditions have contributed to a troubling pattern of deaths among migrant workers from Thailand.
The 48-page report ,“A Raw Deal: Abuses of Thai Workers in Israel’s Agricultural Sector,” documents low pay, excessive working hours, hazardous working conditions, and poor housing for some of Israel’s Thai agricultural workers – and employer retribution if they try to protest by going on strike. The problems persist despite improvements in 2011 to the recruitment process for Thai workers and Israeli laws that set a minimum wage, limit working hours, allow lawful strikes and unionization, and outline standards for workers’ accommodation.
“The success of Israel’s agricultural industry depends to a large extent on the labor of Thai migrant workers, but Israel is doing far too little to uphold their rights and protect them from exploitation,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director. “Israeli authorities need to be much more active in enforcing the law on working hours and conditions, and in clamping down on employers who abuse workers’ rights.”