New ITUC report on Palestinian workers in Israel and the settlements

A new report released by the International Trade Union Confederation(ITUC) has revealed the scandalous exploitation of Palestinian workers who work inside Israel and in the illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

High unemployment in the West Bank and Gaza is leaving Palestinians with little alternative to taking jobs in Israel and the settlements. More than 130,000 people try to earn a living in this way.

The report exposes the reality of:

  • low wages;
  • poor occupational health and safety;
  • the humiliation of having to queue at border crossings to enter Israel;
  • gaps in social protection;
  • and the oppressive labour broker system that many workers are still forced to use, even though the system has been removed by the Israeli authorities in the construction sector.

Root causes

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine and the illegal settlements are the root causes of the plight of these workers who depend on Israel for their livelihoods and the household members who depend on them in turn.

“Only when Palestine becomes an independent state existing alongside Israel, in line with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, can its economy flourish and its people no longer have to rely on substandard employment.

“The US administration’s resumption of financial support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) will make a major difference in Palestine, but Palestinian workers who rely on Israel for employment deserve fair treatment, decent wages and respect for their fundamental rights.”

Key recommendations in the report include:

  • A complete end to the exploitative labour broker system.
  • Respect for the fundamental rights of the workers, in line with the floor of labour protections guaranteed in the ILO Centenary Declaration including an adequate minimum wage.
  • Occupational health and safety and maximum limits on working hours.
  • Labour inspection.
  • Social protection.
  • Due diligence requirements on employers.

“On top of the injustice of occupation, Palestinian workers in Israel and the illegal settlements face injustice at work as well. Israel must fulfill its obligations under international law,” said Sharan Burrow.