Israel denies Thai worker abuse claim

The Israeli Embassy in Thailand on Sunday denied accusations of bad working conditions for Thai agricultural labourers in Israel.

The embassy said Israel employs teams comprising officers from the Office of the National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services as well as the Population and Immigration authority to supervise foreign workers to ensure they comply with labour laws. “A special Thai language hotline is available for Thai workers to report any problems they encounter,” the embassy said.

A major investigation by the BBC‘s Thai-language service claimed Thai workers in Israel “are exploited and violated, with some deaths reported”.

But the embassy insisted that the Thailand-Israel Cooperation on the Placement of Workers (TIC) agreement, jointly implemented by the Thai Ministry of Labour, Israel and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has succeeded in cutting the service fees paid by Thai migrant workers going to Israel to work in the agricultural sector while also protecting their rights.


The IOM visited Israel in November and received positive answers from Thai workers in Israel when asked how they were being treated, the embassy said, noting that the IOM’s survey showed 95% of the workers believed the agreement was “good to excellent”.

“Israel is committed to continuing to protect the rights of foreign workers and to ensuring adequate and appropriate terms of employment, as part of Israel’s commitment to combat manifestations of human trafficking and in accordance with international law,” the embassy said.

On Nov 24, BBC Thai aired an online documentary about Thai workers in Israel, citing their concerns about safety and living conditions. It said that since the TIC took effect in 2012, 172 Thai workers in Israel have died. In many cases the causes were unknown. It also suggested many workers received less than the Israeli legal minimum wage, worked long hours and were forced to endure unhealthy living conditions and housing.

Safety fears were also raised regarding deaths alleged to have been caused by exposure to dangerous chemicals. The labour minister said last week a team of medics had been sent to Israel to survey Thai labourers’ conditions.

Source: Bangkok Post

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