On Sunday, December 13, 2015, the Israeli daily Calcalist (Yediot Aharonot’s economic supplement) published an article that announced the failure of the deal between Israel and China, which had been slated to allow the importation of 20,000 Chinese workers as bonded labour to work in the Israeli construction industry.
Link to the article (Heb): http://www.calcalist.co.il/local/articles/0,7340,L-3675747,00.html
According to the sources that were quoted by Calcalist journalist, Amitai Gazit, the reasons for the failure were legal and political. He mentions the demand of the Chinese government that the workers would not be employed in the settlements located in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Israel refuses to accept this condition. On the legal side, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Immigration Authority are not finding the institution or company that can function as middleman and implement the deal.
It is our estimation – though we cannot know for sure – that the reason for the deal’s failure is not political but rather goes back to the growing international awareness of the need to prevent trafficking of workers. Israeli officials are conscious of the gross violations of human rights and international conventions that are involved in this deal (because there is no bilateral agreement between the governments under the inspection of the International Migration Organization – IMO). They fear that in this case the importation of 20,000 workers from China would generate severe criticism of Israel for allowing such an arrangement.
The lesson is clear – you have to put pressure, and even more pressure on the authorities, so they know there is a price for breaking the law and ignoring International ILO conventions.
We are proud to collaborate in this campaign with the democratic union movement from Hong Kong (HKCTU) and some important workers’ and human rights’ groups in Israel like ACRI, Kav Laoved, and Hotline for Migrant Workers.
WAC-MAAN played a central role in launching this campaign. We believe that the failure of the deal is an important achievement, but we are still concerned about the situation and continue to be vigilant concerning the next step of the Israeli government.
We thank the more than 6300 union activists around the world that sent mails to the Israeli and Chinese officials and contributed to the struggle to defend construction workers – Palestinians, Israelis, and Chinese.
Workers of the world unite!
National Director – WAC MAAN