Last Wednesday, October 9th, 2013, a strike occurred at a moshav near the Gaza Strip in the early morning. The strike was conducted by a group of primarily Thai agricultural workers and focused on demanding minimum wage, salaries paid on time, and improved living conditions. The strikers contacted Kav LaOved around 10 am in order to ask for further instructions. Kav LaOved directed the workers to make a list of demands in Thai, which they would help to translate, and a list of the strike’s participants.
Unfortunately, during the strike, one of the farmers complained to the manpower company about the alleged leader of the strike. The company representatives came to the worker’s house, dragged him from his accommodation, ordered him to pack his things, forced him to sign papers in Hebrew that he could not understand, and transported him to the airport. The worker possessed legal working status in Israel, but the company acted with the intention of overwhelming him so that he wouldn’t demand his right to stay. The worker called Kav LaOved from the airport to inform them of the events and his decision to leave the country anyway. The company was successful in scaring workers with the threat of deportation and effectively bullying the workers out of striking.
Kav LaOved recognizes that if these workers had understood their rights to strike, they would have been more effectively organized and protected in their endeavor. If the agricultural workers were able to form a union, Kav LaOved would be able to focus on raising awareness about workers’ rights in general and their right to strike. It would provide a platform in which to organize, contact interested workers, and compile demands. Workers would understand that, with legal working status, they are not obligated to go to the airport and cannot legally be deported. Currently, the farmers and companies possess far more power than the disadvantaged migrant workers, but Kav LaOved sees the organization of an agricultural workers’ union as a form of protection and unification, giving the workers more power over their situation.