Dear friends and supporters,

I'm writing to update you on what's happening in Kav LaOved, but i cannot begin this message without addressing what is currently happening in Israel. Like many people in Israel we are very concerned with the rapid and destructive changes that the government is leading, and what the future holds. We are also concerned about the consequences of the constitutional coup on the workers KLO represents – Palestinians, refugees, migrant workers and low-income Israelis. We are already hearing alarming statements in the Knesset committees, such as the one made by the chairman of the Foreign Workers Committee last week in reference to refugees: "As long as they are here, they deserve full respect. But I don't want him to be my neighbor, I don't want him to be with me in a hotel, I don't want them here". We are also concerned in view of the government’s agenda to minimize the protections of labor rights granted to marginalized workers, such as creating a differential minimum wage for migrant workers or reintroducing the “deposit law” deducting a significant percentage from salaries of asylum seekers. and with the plans As we are worried about a legislation that’s been discussed that seeks to impede civil society organizations, and particularly human rights organizations from doing our work, by taxing the revenues we receive from foreign entities/governments.
At the same time, we are excited with the waves of protests and the large number of citizens who are joining the struggle to save democracy. We see our role and our work in KLO as an essential monitor and safeguarding actor from the current government's programs. Standing by workers and insisting on fair and protected work conditions, in which they will not fall from scaffolding and their rights will not be denied, is the basis for undermining the attempts to exploit, enslave and deprive workers of their rights and are the fundamentals of human dignity.
Despite all the gravities we managed to promote several issues in the last few months:
  • In January 2023, we published the annual report on work safety based on the work accidents we monitor. We highlighted that in 2022 the number of casualties in work accidents of medium and severe severity was the highest in the last 4 years. After reviewing the findings and recommendations, we convened and called for the immediate establishment of the National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health, and to formulate a national plan to deal with the emergency situation. On the other hand, following our report, the Safety Administration published completely different numbers, and a public debate arose regarding the reasons of the discrepancies. We see this as a success because for several years now we have been pushing the authorities to collect and publish data about the state of accidents, so the public can monitor and that the government will be accountable for the efforts to prevent the next fatality and injury.
  • In mid-December 2022 we held a diplomatic tour to the Jordan Valley, in which some 30 representatives of embassies, foundations and international organizations participated, with the aim of raising awareness to the vulnerability and exploitation of workers in the settlements of the Jordan Valley. During the tour, we met the representatives of the Palestinian Workers' Union in Jericho and we spoke with Palestinian workers employed in settlements in the Jordan Valley. As part of the tour we dealt with the exploitative employment mechanisms, the violation of the rights of workers in this isolated remote area, their lack of access to the justice system and their exposure to harmful substances in the job. The tour yielded new contacts for KLO and more importantly placed the critical situation of workers in the Jordan Valley on the agenda of important actors. This sort of official dialogue with representatives of embassies is even more important in light of the new government.
  • At the same time, we continue to follow the breakdown of the bilateral agreement signed between Israel with the Philippines which is supposed to regulate the arrival of migrant caregivers to Israel. The agreement has failed because, although Israel signed it to eliminate the phenomenon of illegal brokerage fees charged from the workers, it simultaneously imposed additional payments on the workers to be paid to the agencies in Israel. This resulted in Philippines government announcing that the agreement has collapsed and the most important achievement in the caregiving sector providing for the elimination of brokerage fees, has reached a dangerous crossroad. On the backdrop of the collapse of the agreement and as part of our desire to promote broad coalitions that will be able to challenge the government, we held a meeting with employers' organizations and agreed that we will continue and work together so we can affect positive changes for workers and for the patients.

Despite all challenges, it is important for me that we leave the door open for constructive dialogue. I thank you for your support of Kav LaOved.
We will continue to stand in solidarity with the workers.

Adi Maoz, KLO Executive Director