So, what happened at Kav LaOved this month?
Kav LaOved takes the Israeli Government to Court on Behalf of Palestinian Workers, Opposes Cynical Government Proposal to Use Money They Stole from Workers’ to Further Their Exploitation 

Palestinians employed in Israel, and their employers pay into a government-run “paid-sick-leave” fund and yet when they get sick few if any are able to actually get this basic right. Due to Kav LaOved’s petition to the Supreme Court on behalf of the workers, we learned that: In 2018, it was discovered that not a single Palestinian worker had their application for paid sick leave approved or received this right. The Israeli government has made the bureaucratic hurdles so onerous that few except the sickest individuals even try and the few that do rarely succeed.

Instead, Kav LaOved discovered the government has collected 380 million shekels (or $100 million dollars!!!) for this purpose (in theory on behalf of workers) and simply kept the money. In a court hearing this month, we requested that this institutional theft, led by the efforts of the Population Immigration and Border Authority's Payroll Department, be brought to an end. The state has offered to stop collecting these funds altogether, but KLO has insisted on creating a professional fund that will have the capacity to handle both the collection of and disbursements of payments related to the right to paid sick leave. Furthermore, we have demanded that workers’ pay slips be amended to include the amount of money set aside on their behalf for paid-sick leave, so that workers know this is a right they deserve by law.

In terms of the money already collected, KLO has insisted this be used to benefit the welfare of Palestinian workers and categorically rejected the government’s proposal to use the funds to upgrade the West Bank checkpoints. The very same mandatory checkpoints Palestinians spend hours trying to pass through each day to enter Israel for work. Work where they once again will have their basic labor rights violated as they pay into a safety net they can never access.

Check out Or Kashti's Haaretz.com article on the issue.
Kav LaOved filed an appeal in the name of a group of Indian experts, who have been awaiting their work visas for a year now

Every day, workers arrive in our offices asking for help with getting their hard-earned wages and benefits. But this time, the workers are fighting simply for their right to work. Nine Indian pipe-laying experts arrived in Israel after paying excessive amounts of money in brokerage fees ($15,000 USD per person!), and after agreeing to take jobs that promised them continuous employment for the next 5 years. Yet after one year, they found themselves with no visas, no jobs and in extreme debt. 
What they didn't know is that they became victims of a sophisticated fraud – Israeli placement agencies collecting outrageous and illegal brokerage fees from workers who are brought from developing countries. The Israeli placement agencies labels these individuals “experts” thereby charging exorbitant fees for work placement while sidestepping bilateral agreements intended to prevent such exploitative practices. All this takes place under the watch and tacit approval of the Ministry of Interior.
Bilateral agreements between Israel and other countries, many of which have already been signed, regulate the terms of international work migration are in place to prevent exactly this fraudulent and exploitative phenomena. But without enforcement, or the intervention of the Ministry of Interior’s Population Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) – more and more migrant workers continue to fall into this trap finding themselves enslaved to debt and bound to employers that are not interested in them after getting their big check.

Kav LaOved appealed to the Population Authority and requested these workers be given a visa and be allowed to work in their sector and pay off their debts. When PIBA failed to respond we have filed an appeal in on their behalf to the Be’er Sheva court. While we represent these workers in court, KLO will continue to advocate for implementation of bilateral agreements which prevent exactly these kind of exploitative practices. 
Kav LaOved Continues Our Fight to Cancel the Discriminatory Refugee Deposit Law

In recent months, Kav LaOved has been tracking, documenting and analyzing the impact of the Refugee Deposit Law. Now with a greater understanding of its consequences, KLO filed a petition to the High Court of Justice demanding the law be overturned (link in Hebrew). The Refugee Deposit Law – which mandates a 20% deduction from the salaries of asylum seekers and refugee salaries, which is only redeemable once they leave Israel and is intended to "encourage" them to do so, under the assumption that their standard of living would be hurt, and that if they leave – they'd receive the accumulated funds. In practice, this is what happens:
1) The law only served to further push many workers, whose income was already very low prior to the law, further into poverty leaving many in destitution with individuals and families having less money to spend on food, foregoing medical treatment and medications, working extremely long hours and even pushing some into prostitution.  

2) Even if an asylum seeker wants to leave, few if any countries are currently accepting such asylum applications leaving these individuals with no place to go. The low number of asylum seekers leaving Israel goes to show the failure of the law to fulfill its original intended purpose to incentivize migration out of Israel. 

3) In practice, employers are reducing the salaries of their refugee and asylum seeker employees but are keeping the money themselves rather than depositing it into the designated “savings account”. Which only further cements its failure to incentive leaving the country, since there is a high likelihood if they do leave they will not be able to retrieve the money their employers stole from them.

Last week Kav LaOved, along with other human rights organizations, presented the discriminatory nature and failures of implementation of this law during hearing before the Supreme Court.  Now we await a decision in the case. Kav LaOved will not stop fighting to overturn this Law, which only punishes those who are trying to earn a living.

For an interview about the miserable law, and the petition (in Hebrew, 33:00)
Kav also accomplished many other things during July:
  • KLO aided Taher (link in Hebrew), a construction worker from Turkey, to get out of an employment contract and visa which bound him Yilmazlar an abusive and exploitative construction company and helped him find a new employer, one that doesn't threaten their workers and makes sure that their working conditions are safe;
  • KLO has sent Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (link in Hebrew) a letter, demanding to delay the opening of the fast train line from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, due to concerning reports of safety violations in its construction;
  • KLO assisted a migrant caregiver who was blacklisted by the Israeli Authorities for “abandoning her employer” when in fact she ran away from an extremely abusive situation where she had become a victim of human trafficking. We filed a petition on her behalf requesting she be removed from the list and allowed to find a new employer;
  • and KLO’s more than decade of advocacy paid off when regulations for a dedicated fund (for pension and other social benefits) for migrant agricultural workers were finally approved in the Knesset's labor committee a critical step in ensuring these workers will (finally) get some of what they earned! 
Help us show workers they are not alone in their fight for just employment! A monthly donation to Kav LaOved will assist workers in standing up for their rights. Any new donation of at least 300 NIS (approx. $85.00 USD total) - or donations that triple previous ones - will be matched by one of our funding partners.

 To securely donate via "Israel Gives":

You are more than welcome to like our facebook page, visit our website and send us an email on any subject!
Mercaz HaBshorah
Phone: 04-6082228
Fax: 153-4-6082228

Wednesday, Friday
Herzl 18, Floor 2
Phone: 04-8643350
Fax: 04-8644238

Hotline Opening Hours:

Monday, Thursday

and via email at
Tel Aviv
Nahalat Binyamin 75, Floor 4
Phone: 03-6883766
Fax: 03-6883537

All donations will allow "Kav LaOved" to help workers get their rights at work and the money taken from them by their employers. Even a fixed contribution of 10 NIS per month. To donate by direct debit bank or credit card deposit contribution click here. Association account: Bank Hapoalim branch 781 Account 431095 in the name "Kav LaOved". To send a check to the offices of the association via mail: Kav LaOved PO Box 2319 ​​Tel Aviv 61022
Donations to Kav LaOved within Israel are income tax deductible under Section 46. Tax-deductible donations from abroad, by New Israel Fund. For more info: emilie@kavlaoved.org.il
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