ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Chinese Workers in Israel

A Bizarre Take

Chinese workers in Israel, brought in to meet the labour shortage caused by the Israeli government's refusal to allow Palestinians to cross the border to work in Israel, have charged Chinese labour agencies with expropriating large parts of wage payments made to them by Israeli employers and are refusing to return home for fear of harassment and prosecution. A bizarre situation created by a government which sees the citizen's work as its own property, to be hired out and taxed at will.

When the Israeli governmentpunished the Palestinians ofthe West Bank and Gaza byrefusing to allow them to cross the borderto work in Israel, they inflicted on Israeliemployers a most desperate and damagingshortage of labour. Labour recruiters setoff round the world to find substitutes and,for example, Thai workers became importantin agriculture and construction. Arrangementswith Chinese governmentagencies led to the arrival of about 5,000Chinese workers. One Chinese company,the Nan Tong 2nd Construction Company(of Qi Dong city) has been supplyingworkers to Israeli building firms for morethan three years.

The trouble is that the workers were notpaid. It now seems that the passports ofup to 90 per cent of the Chinese workersare confiscated, something which is illegalunder Israeli law (and if employers do it,they are liable to a year in gaol, but nocase has ever been brought to court) Without a passport, a worker cannot opena bank account and so cannot be paid; norcan he change jobs or return to China Many workers, to survive, were obligedto work privately, ‘moonlighting’, in their off time.

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