Two Filipino illegal workers caught by police this week are suing their employer, cosmetics queen Pnina Rosenblum, for NIS 188,000.
The Immigration Police caught Arnel Marco and Imelda Lanio Sunday, by coincidence, when raiding old-age homes in search of illegal healthcare workers. The policemen saw the couple in the street and hauled them in too, only to learn that they work for Rosenblum.
The married couple had been working for Rosenblum for about two years. Their work visas had expired, reducing their status to illegal residents, and as a result, both may be expelled to the Philippines soon.
In their lawsuit filed by attorney Haim Oren at the Tel Aviv District Labor Tribunal, the couple claim they had worked for Rosenblum for two years until this month, having taken care of her children and household. They also had handled the gardening and kept the swimming pool clean, giving Rosenblum "peace of mind" to pursue her business career.
Together they had earned $1,600 a month, plus an allowance. Throughout their term of employment, they received only base pay and no vacation or healthcare allowances as required by law. In addition, they had not been compensated for daily overtime. They also claim their weekly rest period was shorter than that dictated by law.
Moreover, the couple claims it was Rosenblum's duty to ensure that their work visas were extended, but she failed to do so. The couple say they had requested from Rosenblum the rights to which they were entitled, which she rejected. As a result, they are suing for vacation pay, healthcare allowance, severance compensation, early notice compensation, and overtime pay, in addition to court costs.
At the time of the arrest, Rosenblum waxed highly indignant. "Instead of catching murderers, money-launderers, drug dealers and thieves, the police are busy chasing people who never hurt a soul," she lamented. "A decision was made that expelling a few foreign workers would reduce unemployment. I don't see it helping."
She also called on the Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz to allow people to legally employ foreign workers. "People like me, who work from morning to night, supply employment to dozens of Israelis," she said. "I employ 140 people, I work from dawn to dusk. What do they want, that afterward I should come home and clean the floors? I have a huge house that no Israeli wants to clean."
She said the couple had agreed not only to clean her home, but also to help care for her children, giving her peace of mind. "It's a disgrace, this waste of money on the Immigration Police," Rosenblum said. "They should let me and my foreign workers work in peace."
Rosenblum has yet to file her defense.