The phenomenon of migrant workers in Israel began in 1993, with the government’s approval of massive recruitment of workers for the agricultural and construction sectors. Until the end of 2013, official recruitment of migrant workers in both of these fields was conducted using private recruitment agencies (both in Israel and countries of origin), which were paid excessive commissions from the workers who came to work in Israel. To battle this phenomenon, the Israeli government decided to sign bilateral agreements with some of the sending countries. The first agreements were signed with Thailand to recruit workers for the agricultural sector and Bulgaria to recruit workers for the construction industry.

From the study:

“The picture that emerges from our analysis is that the implementation of the bilateral agreements had an impact on the recruitment of foreign workers in agriculture and construction. The entire process is coordinated solely through government offices; recruitment fees were reduced drastically (in the case of Thailand) or eliminated (in the case of Bulgaria.). However, even after the implementation of the agreements, the analysis of living and working conditions of foreign workers still reveals gross violations of the rights of workers in construction and agriculture. These grave violations suggest that enforcement of labor laws is far from adequate. Therefore, procedures for protecting the rights of foreign workers should be implemented.”

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