Fall at Kav LaOved – We’re making the last preparations for our upcoming conference and publication of a new report, another chapter in the fight to free Yilmazlar Workers from their abusive employers, and a batch of new volunteers join our efforts to ensure labor rights.

We invite you all to take part in our conference, "Occupation of Labor – Palestinian Employment in Israel" which will take place on Thursday, 22.11.2018, at 18:30, in Rosa Luxemburg Foundation's offices (Rothschild 11, Tel Aviv). The conference will include the launch of Kav LaOved’s new report dedicated to an especially invisible group among workers in Israel: the Palestinian workers. All those who wish to better understand the bureaucratic mechanisms involved employment of Palestinians in Israel, understand the exploitative employment structures trapping tens of thousands of people and hear the full story – are invited to attend.
We will speak about the delay in the promised governmental reforms, the huge sums of money that is squeezed from these workers for the benefit of others, the extreme neglect that characterizes the treatment of this population group, and the lost millions we've discovered – a sum collected from workers that the Israeli government has simply kept – a sum which now the Israeli Defense Ministry, Israeli employers, labor unions and the Palestinian Ministry of Labor are now fighting over. We will host speakers from fellow organizations and will attempt to suggest solutions to problems the government has been creating for the past 40 years.

The conference's agenda:

18:30 - Reception and refreshments

19:00 - opening and introduction of the report: Lawyers Khaled Dukhi and Maayan Niezna

First session: Palestinian Employment in Israel: Core issues
Moderator: Einat Podjarny, Speakers: Lawyers Noga Dagan Buzaglo of Adva Center and Gadeer Nicola of Kav LaOved

Second Session: Checkpoints and Boiling Points
Moderator: Hana Amoury, Speakers: Sylvia Peterman of Machsom Watch, Erez Wagner of WAC –Maan, and Abed Dari of Kav LaOved

Save the date, let us know if you intend to attend (at Media@kavlaoved.org.il).

Another chapter in our fight for the exploited workers of the construction company Yilmazlar

We have been hearing for more than a decade of what is happening at Yilmazlar, a Turkish construction company which employs nearly one thousand Turkish workers in Israel.

Kav LaOved together with the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, pleaded against the company as far back as 2007, pointing to the company’s exploitative practices – which employs its workers while violating their rights and controlling them through threats, extortion and intimidation. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court rejected the petition and left the binding agreement of the Turkish construction workers to Yilmazlar. Since then, the contract allowing Yilmazlar to work and employ Turkish workers in Israel has been renewed repeatedly while testimonies of abuse and exploitation what is happening within the company has been piling up. 

Even today, in 2018, workers employed by Yilmazlar continue to come to us and report horrific conditions. The workers report workdays that sometimes last 24 consecutive hours as well as non-compliance with work safety standards. They also tell of the intense policing of their daily lives which includes forbidding them to leave their company-provided residence without supervision from the company, over-crowded and inhumane living conditions (which they share with cockroaches and mice), the allocation of only five bathrooms for 90 workers and not even all five are functional. For those who decide to try to run away the company has a “defector catching” unit to chase and intimidate those who might dare speak up.

Recently, Kav LaOved together with The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, filed a petition to the immigration appellate tribunal in the name of six workers who escaped from Yilmazlar. The petition asked that the workers be allowed to work for different employers within the construction sector for the remainder of their visas. The Court ordered the immigration and population authority to issue these individuals work permits within a week, because the workers need to earn a living while their case unfolds. Yet the Ministry of Interior refused to adhere to the court ruling and issue the workers their work permits as the court mandated. In fact the Ministry outdid itself and appealed to overturn the verdict – claiming our appeal was expected to be rejected anyway, and that the workers violated the terms of their work visas by running away from Yilmazlar – so should now be deported. This is how the Israeli government has deemed it acceptable to treat those workers who dared to speak up against their own exploitation.

Our common struggle asks for only one thing: liberation from bondage. The current employment structure, promoted by the Israeli government, entails bringing foreign workers here who cannot break free from their employer even when the conditions they face amount to modern day slavery. A system which consistently enables basic human rights violations should not be something the government promotes.
We organized a training for the new volunteers at "Kav LaOved"

Khaled says Kav LaOved is an addicting place. Volunteers who come here just stay – a year, a decade, 27 years – a friend brings a friend, a volunteer brings another volunteer. Over a hundred volunteers and national-service volunteers operate the daily reception hours, provide responses over many platforms and assist tens of thousands of workers annually to realize their rights. Irit has been volunteering at Kav LaOved’s migrant caregiving department since 2008, her daughter a bit less than that, and there is a granddaughter on the way! Perhaps when she grows up she will continue the family tradition.
And there are the new volunteers! To get all our new volunteers up and running we organized a professional training about Israeli labor laws and the various regulations that are relevant for the workers we assist on a daily basis. KLO attorneys Khaled Dukhi and Michal Tadjer were happy to share their knowledge and experience with new volunteers as well as law students from the legal clinic for refugees and migrants rights in the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya who were among the participants and will be coming to regularly support our work while learning the practice of justice through assistance to vulnerable workers. Good luck to everyone!

What else happened in October? Well:

The fight against construction work accidents rose to the public agenda as the Histadrut – the General Union for Workers in Israel and the largest labor union in the country proclaimed a labor dispute over the topic. A general strike was prevented as result of a last-minute agreement between the Histadrut and the Treasury Ministry, an agreement which includes many of the objectives that Kav LaOved has been advocating for in the media and in petitions to the Supreme Court for the last several years. However, the Histadrut agreement fails to include any sort of timetable for reform or some of our other critical demands including the investigation and prosecution of responsible parties in cases of accidents. You can read more about the Histadrut agreement here (english) and our reaction to it here (hebrew).

In other news, in October we received a visit from the Voice of America team, who sought to learn through us of how Israel’s refugee deposit law affects this vulnerable population here in Israel. Noa Kaufman, coordinator of the refugees and asylum seekers department and Michael Afowerki, our Interpreter and field coordinator, were interviewed for the piece along with and Lola – a worker Kav LaOved had helped to reclaim her labor rights.

An additional aspect of our work received important feature in Calcalist (hebrew), a prominent Israeli publication, which elaborated of the "work accidents plague" on different economic sectors including agriculture. It seems, regardless of the sector the same general attitude emerges: the amount of public interest in a sector’s work safety is derived from the color of the workers’ skin and their status. We hope that with your support we can continue to raise the profile of these workers and insist on the notion that all workers deserve safe and equitable employment.

That is it. Now it's November's turn to bring its tidings.
Thank you for reading and see you all on in the next newsletter.

That is it. Now it's November's turn to bring its tidings.
Thank you for reading and see you all on in the next newsletter.

Yours, Kav LaOved - Worker's Hotline
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: hagar@kavlaoved.org.il
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