Violations of workers’ rights occur daily in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories – such as non-payment of wages, lack of health and safety, sexual or physical abuse – despite their rights being protected under Israeli law.
Christian Aid partner Kav LaOved provides free legal aid and court representation to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged: migrant workers, Palestinians, new immigrants and low-wage earners.
Its work has led to Israeli High Court rulings that protect workers further, but Kav LaOved’s also ensures this protection happens in practice, not just in theory.
Protecting Palestinian workers
Thousands of Palestinian workers labour on the illegal Israeli settlements built across the West Bank, as wages are often higher on settlements than in the shattered Palestinian economy. But the context of occupation and poverty makes these workers vulnerable to abuse.
Ahmad Najata, 38, had worked on an Israeli settlement for three years when his employer moved location without paying him his final wages. He was owed 6,040 shekels (about £1,006), but his former employer refused to pay.
But Kav LaOved were able to help, as Ahmad explains, ‘Kav LaOved took documentation of my case, and found me a lawyer. After the intervention of Kav LaOved and the lawyer, the company recognised my claim, and offered to settle out of court and make an agreement and pay me my wages.’
There are approximately 200,000 migrant workers in Israel today – mostly from countries such as India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, the Philippines and Thailand that are mostly employed in construction, agriculture or as care workers.
Kav LaOved has repeatedly documented how employers abuse migration policies by threatening workers with deportation, seizing their passports, or forcing them to work against their will.
Kav LaOved runs a hotline that workers can call for advice and support. Some calls develop into legal cases where Kav LaOved provides free representation.
An international issue
The International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations’ agency that promotes decent work for all, is proposing to establish a new set of rights for domestic workers next year which would mean that governments and employers have more responsibility to make sure domestic workers are treated like other workers.
Christian Aid is working with our partners to press governments, employers and trade unions to agree to the proposed ILO convention so that domestic workers' rights are explicitly recognised and can be better enforced.
This framework will provide a context for protection for hundreds of thousands of workers, not just in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, but across the world.
You can find out more about Kav LaOved’s work here on its website.