Knesset to Hold Hearings on Debt Slavery Among Foreign Workers

YERUSHALAYIM -
Zionist Camp MK Itzik Shmuli. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Zionist Camp MK Itzik Shmuli. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee said it will convene hearings to investigate a report about the debt bondage of foreign workers to Israel manpower companies.

The announcement follows a Times of Israel exposé, which alleged that the workers are charged from $8,000 to over $20,000 for the right to come work in the country, and then must service that debt, typically for 1-2 years under substandard conditions.

“The findings in this article are exceedingly troubling,” said Zionist Camp MK Itzik Shmuli, who called for the hearings.

Shmuli outlined two issues: “First, there is the ethical issue, where manpower companies turn caregiving — an essential service to the elderly people who need it — into a kind of human trafficking. Then there is the legal issue, when these things occur in a concealed and secret way.”

Barak Ben-Ezer, co-founder of a startup called Neema, which provides digital banking services to foreign workers, added that besides the high brokers’ fees, the interest on the loans they take to pay them are exorbitant, at 5-10 percent a month. Much lower rates are available, he said.