The past month in Kav LaOved

Gradually the staff has been returning to the office and have started to provide face-to-face assistance to workers alongside the online reception we’ve been managing since the beginning of the pandemic.  The impact of the health and economic crisis brought on with Covid19 has on workers is enormous. In this newsletter we will highlight three cases demonstrating this: caregivers in nursing homes are prohibited from leaving the premises of the establishment, while these restrictions do not apply to Israeli caregivers; Palestinian workers, according to a HCJ decision following our appeal, are not entitled to monies from the sick-paid leave fund after having to leave their jobs during the crisis, and, Israeli workers are reaching out as they go back to the labor market and are required to forfeit their previous work conditions (cutting wages, for example) in order to keep their jobs. 
“Foreign caregivers are forbidden from going on annual leave\sleeping in any accommodation other than the nursing home” – No. We did not make this quote up. It is cited from the instruction manual of “Mishan” (a network of senior living centres). “Mishan” is not alone in this. During the Coronavirus crisis, we received many complaints from migrant workers in caregiving, suggesting that they are practically imprisoned. In response, we appealed to the relevant authorities demanding that they cancel these instructions limiting the freedom of movement of caregivers.  We are happy to share that our appeal was successful and resulted in the Ministry of Labor publishing an official statement regarding the matter – clearly stating that migrant workers should not be confined and must be allowed to go on annual leave, in accordance to the general instructions of the Ministry of Health.
The health instructions, published in early May, specified the conditions in which migrant caregivers can go on a leave and stay in a flat of their own, be it caregivers employed by private employers or by nursing homes.

Unfortunately, these instructions also limit the freedom of migrant workers who, unlike Israeli caregivers, are allowed to stay in alternative accommodation only if they stay there alone. Having no flatmates to share the monthly rent with makes this option unrealistic and in essence confines the workers to their employers. The workers whom after 3 months of non-stop work, with no rest or free time and without help for relatives – are stuck in an impossible limbo. All this is while most of the Israeli economy is back on track. The state should take care of these workers, who carry the weight of nursing the high-risk population on their shoulders - and provide them with accommodation options at its expense.  

Palestinian workers’ are left with nothing: at the start of the crisis, we submitted a letter to key ministers demanding that Palestinian workers unable to enter Israel to work due to border closures be given paid sick leave. The letter was submitted under the framework of our ongoing HCJ petition to address problems with the Palestinian sick leave fund, which has accumulated 515 million ILS in workers’ unused sick leave payments.
However, in the past week we received the official position of the state as it was submitted to the court: Kav LaOved’s appeal should be declined. So which safety nets are there for the workers: None. The money is there, sick leave payments that would be so valuable for workers, are within reach – yet the state doesn’t want to give them access to it. On June 1st 2020 the High Court of Justice declined our appeal. We are taking further advocacy steps to challenge this decision. 
And more on violations of workers’ rights: “I’m pregnant and my employer wants to cut off my salary by 15%”; “My working conditions were worsened recently - I get fewer shifts and my employer says it’s because of the Corona crisis”. These are just two, of the many messages, we received in the past days.
Kav LaOved received more than a thousand applications from Israeli workers in recent times, such as the above examples, showing a clear trend: workers who reach out testify that their rights at work are violated due to the Corona crisis. The nature of the violations vary – some got their wages cut off, some experienced a change in work-shifts and some tell of worsened work conditions. Employers are demanding from workers to work overtime without being paid for it accordingly. The premise behind it is that the real economic crisis that we are in the midst of is raising the unemployment percentages, making the high demand for work an opportunity for employers to exploit workers. You can read an article on this issue, including an interview with Iris Bar from KavLaOved here: https://www.zman.co.il/109286/print/
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Kav LaOved – Workers' Hotline
Protecting workers' rights
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Mercaz HaBshorah
Phone: 04-6082228
Fax: 153-4-6082228

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

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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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