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Bringing in Migrant Workers in the Construction Sector Privately

Kav LaOved and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel petitioned the High Court of Justice (Hebrew) on February 22, 2024 against a clause in the government's decision of February 4, 2024 that allows another 10,000 construction workers to be brought to Israel outside the framework of agreements between countries. The petition was filed by the Workers' Rights Clinic at Tel Aviv University and Kav LaOved.


The petition presents the history of bringing migrant workers to Israel over the years and the success in curbing the phenomenon of illegal brokerage fees charged to workers by bringing workers through agreements between countries. The petition argued that under the auspices of the war, the clause in the government's decision undermines this achievement, which was acquired with great effort: it doubles what was supposed to be a temporary exception at the beginning of the war – a time-limited track that allows the recruitment of 10,000 licensed migrant workers into the construction industry without supervision over the manner of recruitment and the collection of prohibited payments as part of it. This is contrary to the rule according to which migrant workers in the industry will be recruited only in a supervised manner, in order to prevent the collection of prohibited payments that end in debt bondage, leading to exploitation and even slavery and human trafficking – as determined by the Supreme Court.


The petition argued that while until recently it seemed that the Israeli government had at least tried to reduce the possibilities of unsupervised recruitment of migrant workers, it seems that in recent months the government has been acting in the opposite direction, under cover of the war and under tremendous pressure from recruitment bodies and employers who want to remove regulations, contrary to its obligations to the court and its legal and international obligations. It was further argued that the clause, against which the petition is directed, was approved in a proceeding that was later defined by the Attorney General as illegal and without preliminary staff work taking into account all the difficulties it raises.


On April 18, 2024, the state notified the court that the Attorney General had determined that the clause in the government decision that allows construction workers to be brought to Israel privately is illegal, and therefore will not be implemented. According to the Attorney General, if the government wishes to allow workers to be brought in in this manner, it will have to reconsider the issue and make a decision that meets "the required legal standards." Therefore, the state requested that the petition be dismissed.


HCJ 1538/24 Kav LaOved v. Government of Israel

Attorney: Michal Tagger (Labor Rights Clinic at Tel Aviv University), Elad Kahane (Kav LaOved)

 

 

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