Kav LaOved – Worker’s Hotline filed an appeal (2.11) against the Israeli government, the Population, Borders, and Immigration Authority, and the Ministry of Finance, regarding the management of pension funds for Palestinian workers employed in Israel
The State of Israel is in possession of monies to Palestinian workers employed in Israel, amounting to approximately 1.5 billion NIS, which is money owed through the pension funds guaranteed to workers employed in Israel. Workers and employers set aside, under collective agreements and extension orders, fixed rates of salary in respect to pension insurance. The State is in control of these funds, however, it refuses to treat them as pension insurance, and sees them de-facto as a kind of “savings”. Moreover, the State frequently removes basic insurance components, such as the insurance against loss of work ability, from these “savings.” The funds are being managed behind closed doors and have a great lack of transparency, while discriminating and disposing the rights of the workers. Workers receive no reports from the funds and there is no information in Arabic regarding these funds, which are supposed to be used for pension insurance, and the various rights arising from such insurance.
In the appeal, filed by attorney Michal Tadjer from the legal department of Kav LaOved – Worker’s Hotline, the State is required to manage the funds as a “real” pension fund, while providing reports to its members, as well as including the insurance benefits that have been removed from it.
The appeal alleges, inter alia:
“These funds are managed in contravention to the law, behind closed doors, on the basis of procedures and information that are not provided to the employees nor to the employers; they are run without reporting and without a transparent and uniform financial mechanism; their management is carried out on the basis of a legal vacant which is unjustified, thus without rules and without a proper procedure. Employees are motivated to withdraw the funds in order to prevent them from receiving a pension; pension contributions are not conducted according to the intended use of the insurance; The respondents have canceled without notification or justification in law fundamental components in the pension insurance of Palestinian workers, and continue changing the nature of the insurance frequently; all of which constitute the violation of property and the violation of equality, thus amount to the exploitation of a marginalized poor workers sector that lacks a voice. ”
It should be further noticed, that according to the Population, Borders, and Immigration Authority, as of 2015, only 113 Palestinians receive an old-age pension and only 323 Palestinians receive deceased relatives pensions. In 2013, only one employee was added to the number of recipients of old-age pension; and in 2014, three employees joined the old-age pension recipients. During 2013-2014, only 26 widows joined the recipients of deceased relatives pension. However, tens of thousands of workers are entitled to these benefits every year.
Attorney Michal Tadjer:
“The State of Israel has for years collected pension insurance funds intended for Palestinian workers, while as the data show that such insurance does not exist. The State reduces primary insurance products, and frequently changes the definitions of these insurances. First, it claims that it is “saving” them, and then that “it is not a pension,” though workers and employers set aside for the sake of pension insurance, and despite a government decision in which the State undertook to manage employee pension funds. This exploitation of a working population which is already weak and lacks a voice, sums to a negligent management of billions of shekels. The State misleads workers to believe that it is “saving” these funds, and encourages them to withdraw these funds which includes a heavy tax. As a result, when they reach old age, or upon the occurrence of another qualifying insurance-event – they are left without an annual pension.”