“Migration is an expression of the human aspiration for dignity, safety and a better future. It is part of the social fabric, part of our very make-up as a human family” (Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN SG)
Introduction and Some Recent Data:
Today, December 18th 2019, is International Migrants Day. On this very day, in the year 1990, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Thousands of migrant workers have reached Kav Laoved in the past year. Approx. 4,661 of them have opened files here and were provided with individual assistance with their cases. That number stands for merely 4.5% out of 102,450 registered migrant workers working in Israel to-date, according to the Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration. 57,201 of them are caregivers, 15,484 work in construction, 23,047 work in agriculture, and the remaining 6,718 are classified as foreign national experts.
The appeals Kav Laoved receives suggests that the majority of migrant workers are paid below the minimum wage. As of today, Israeli labour laws state that caregivers must work 24 hours a day during weekdays, while receiving the equivalent minimum wage of only 42 weekly working hours. The heavily bounding visa regulations make it harder for them to resign – an especially daunting fact when it comes to cases of abuse and sexual assault some caregivers endure. All of the caregivers working is Israel pay thousands of dollars for illegal brokerage fees in order to enter the country, and while a bilateral agreement with The Philippines, which is meant to eradicate this exploitation, has already been signed, its execution is being delayed due to the continuous lack of a functioning government. As for agriculture workers, Kav Laoved’s data shows that over two thirds of migrant workers do not receive the appropriate minimum wage for neither their regular working hours nor for heir overtime. Moreover, we recognize most agriculture employers do not deposit their workers’ social rights in a designated fund, thus breaking the deposit rules.
Voices of Workers: In honor of International Migrants Day, we wanted to bring workers’ voices to the front. Therefore, we asked them to answer a couple of questions: why did they come to Israel? and what would they like to say to the Israeli public. We are happy to share their answers with you today.
Aekkasit Kittiariyakun, agriculture worker: “I came here so I can save up money, while also learning about agriculture so I can bring my knowledge back to Thailand. I’d like the Israeli employers to see us as human beings; I’d like them not to exploit us”.
วรวุฒิ ไพราม, agriculture worker: “I needed to come here so I can save up enough money to build a better future. I’d like them [Israeli employers] to consider our hearts as well”.
Justin Mundackal, caregiver: “I came here to work so I can help my family survive. In Israel, there are some good people, while others are just inhumane. The employing agency operates illegally. The work as a caregiver is difficult enough without the outrageously low salaries some employers give us. A caregiver must work more than 15-20 hours a day, with no adequate payment nor rest”.
Champa P Jagoda, caregiver: “Most employers don’t care about the law. It’s on paper only [and thus can be ignored]. Should we be the ones to give them a wakeup call? Most of their mistakes eventually hurt us. “Migration” [meaning, the Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration] should be the one to enforce the law and take responsibility for the immigrant population. Thank you, Kav Laoved, for the care and attention”.
Terez Somogyi Bojte, caregiver: “I’m from Romania. Why did I arrive in Israel? Because I’ve had problems back home, and in Israel I can do anything I couldn’t do back there. Thank you, Israel, for everything”.
Lilibeth A. Valdez, caregiver: “Why did I come to Israel? I wanted to save up money for my future. To help my family. I love the people in Israel, especially my employers’ family. They help me achieve my goals in life, they treat me as family, and I’m thankful for that. I’m happy to work for them, they are nice people. I pray for them to be forever blessed”.
Sunita Anubhav Prasai, caregiver: “My name is Sunita Prasai, and I come from the beautiful land of Nepal. Why did I come to Israel? It’s because I had no job in Nepal. I’m a housewife, and I bare great responsibility. I had no savings for my future, so I had to come to Israel. The people in Israel are kind. I work in Ramat Aviv, my employer is good to me, and their family is just like my own. For that, I love Israel and its people”.
Belinda Dimla Lagman, caregiver: “Why did I come to Israel? To work, and to visit the holy places of course. So I can give my children a better future, just like the rest immigrant workers and their families”.
The words of Jackie Lou Goc-ong, a caregiver, accompanied by a photograph she sent us:
“God’s plan is always the best, for he knows very well what is right for men. I am grateful, like everyone, to have the opportunity to work abroad. I am lucky to accomplish something that has always been my lifelong dream.
Long time ago, in March 2015, I came to Israel to work as a caregiver. I’ve brought with me dreams and plans for the future, hoping I’ll be able to fulfill them here. As of today, December 2019, I’m already halfway through to achieving my goals. Hard work, determinacy, hope and most importantly – prayers, filled me with energy and inspiration to work and save up as much as I could. I was able to make a financial investment that should yield profit in the future – a rare opportunity I grabbed as long as I could. The fact that I have a supporting family back in the Philippines helped me in the process of achieving my goals.
As a caregiver, it has always been my pleasure to provide my employers with the warmest of services. I provide them treatments that suit their needs, and I love them like they my own grandparents or even parents. In return, I am granted with blessings, love and trust, as I deserve. Like my fellow caregivers, I have feelings of my own. My first two employers, I’d say, weren’t right for me. With the third employer, I finally felt like she’s “the one”. Unfortunately, two months ago she passed away, after 4 years we’ve been together.
At the moment, I work as a substitute caregiver. So far, the experience is great and challenging simultaneously. I get to meet different people with different sorts of disabilities and illnesses. My abilities as a caregiver are being thoroughly as I need to adjust myself to their needs immediately. It may sound tough, but I’ve learned to view things in a positive light. I remember that while things can get terribly hard, it is only temporary. Sooner or later, everything will be alright and everything will sort itself out – just like God intended”.