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State Gives Permits to 700 Migrant Workers for Jobs 'Israelis Won't Do'

Permits approved for work in restaurants and heavy industry, although thousands of Israelis have been fired from these jobs this year.

The government has given permits to allow in some 700 foreigners to work in restaurants and heavy industry in 2011, although thousands of Israelis have been fired from these jobs this year, Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry sources said.

The Interior Ministry's Population and Immigration Authority has been publishing a notice in newspapers detailing the criteria for bringing in migrant workers.

Employers must pay NIS 833 for an application to bring in foreign workers, the cabinet has decided. The notices, which cost the Interior Ministry some NIS 40,000 each, say "the permits will be granted in line with the government's policy to gradually reduce the number of foreigners employed in Israel."

The cabinet has approved importing some 500 workers for the food service industry and 200 for welding and fitting jobs, claiming no Israelis will do the work.

But Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry figures show 3,662 Israelis have been fired from these fields during 2010.

The director of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry's job training division, Shlomi Ben Shabbat, said he could open training courses for thousands of unemployed Israelis "any minute."

However, very few register for the state-funded welding and fitting courses today, although the profession is still in demand. The government hardly refers job seekers to these courses any more, probably because of the ease with which foreign workers can be brought to fill these positions, ministry sources said.

Employing foreign workers in these jobs has led to a dramatic wage slash. Employers prefer to hire mostly foreigners, whom they can pay much less, driving away Israeli workers, the sources said.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said the notice was published in accordance with the cabinet's decision.