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The Histadrut labor federation and the Manufacturers' Association agreed yesterday for the first time to take action against employers who do not abide by labor laws concerning workers' pay and social benefits.

The agreement will be signed by all of the other associations that belong to the umbrella organization of the business sector, including the Israel Hotels Association, the Israel Diamond Industry Association, the Contractors' Association, The Federation of Self-employed and others.

The agreement, which was signed at the office of the president of the Manufacturers' Association, Shraga Brosh, states that sanctions against employers who violate workers' rights will be imposed in stages.

As a first stage, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor will send a warning letter demanding that the violation be corrected.

Next, if the employer continues with the violation, the trade minister will exercise his authority to impose an immediate fine on the employer, totaling hundreds of thousands of shekels.

The employer will have a limited time to file an appeal against the fine.

Criminal charges possible

Finally, if the violation continues, criminal charges will be filed against the manager or supervisor who is responsible for the violation.

Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini said that criminal charges would be filed against employers who violated labor laws concerning yearly vacation, wages (including the minimum wage), work and rest hours, youth employment, women's employment, wage equality, equal opportunities, sexual harassment, disabled rights, and notice of dismissal.

Eini and Brosh both said yesterday that because of the small number of inspectors employed by the Trade Ministry to enforce labor laws (there are only 19), some of the officials at the disposal of the Immigration Police should be utilized for this purpose.

They also said that laws governing public and private sector tenders should be amended so that a company participating in the tender would have to prove that it was paying its employees wages that were not lower than the minimum wage.