On Saturday evening in Levinsky Park, Noa Kaufman, Coordinator for Refugee and Asylum Seeker Workers at Kav LaOved, assembled dozens of such workers, most of them from Eritrea or Sudan, with the goal of getting them to sign a power of attorney in order to receive legal representation.
The workers who were gathered there were part of a group of over 300 seasonal, contracted agricultural workers who were employed during the summer of 2012 in several kibbutzim and in a village in the Lower Galilee. In December, they complained to Kav LaOved that their wages for November had not yet been paid to them. In a telephone conversation with Kav LaOved, the contractor claimed that he had given all the wages to two Sudanese workers who then disappeared without a trace. The police became involved in the case and their investigation concluded that one of the workers had stolen the money. Kav LaOved finds this unacceptable, as the employer cannot avoid the responsibility of paying his employees! It is the employer’s responsibility, not that of a courier or intermediary, to ensure that the money ends up in the workers’ hands.
It was difficult to stand in front of these workers, who are destitute and have been through many hardships and disappointments, and tell them that even though Kav LaOved could ensure them legal representation, it is uncertain when they will receive their money, and if they will receive it at all.
There was no need for translation from English, Tigrinya, or Arabic to understand that workers feel uncertain or resentful over the delays regarding their circumstances. Finally, after a long time of talking, they chose to place their trust in Kav LaOved and signed over power of attorney. Now the burden is Kav LaOved’s.