22 August 2019, Haaretz
Company operating in the West Bank fined 507,000 shekels (US$144,000) after a Labor and Social Affairs Ministry investigation
The Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court fined a manufacturer 507,000 shekels (US$144,000) [editor: AUD$214,000] for paying its Palestinian workers as little as 9 shekels (US$2.55) an hour [editor: AUD3.80 an hour], and for obstructing a labor inspector.
Minimum wage is currently 29 shekels an hour [editor: AUD12.18 an hour].
Yahalom Cleaning Materials Industries imports, exports and sells cleaning materials, and operates in the Karnei Shomron industrial zone, across the Green Line [editor: inside the occupied West Bank]. The Labor and Social Affairs Ministry investigation found that the company employed 10 Palestinian workers at less than minimum wage. Some of the workers were getting only 9 shekels an hour for over a decade.
Judge Yafit Mizrahi-Levi fined the company 250,000 shekels, and added a 52,000 shekel fine for company executives. The company was also ordered to pay 190,000 shekels in compensation to the workers. The company was also convicted of obstructing the inspector, by not presenting requested documents and by not coming for questioning. For this the company was fined 15,000 shekels.
“Despite the difficulties posed by the accused, we managed to get the evidence to prove the violations,” said Yaffa Soleimani, director of the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry’s enforcement department.
The chief prosecutor, Gali Levi of the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, said the case shows the importance of criminal enforcement. “These are vulnerable workers who didn’t succeed in standing up for their rights, which is why it’s important for the state to intervene,” she said. “I hope that the decision to pay the workers compensation will be an incentive for workers to complain against employers who commit labor violations.”