Israel Withheld $10 Million From Migrant Workers' Welfare Funds

A treasury official said that the sum was found in deposits and that the ministry does not know what to do with the amount

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
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South Tel Aviv, in August.
South Tel Aviv, in August.Credit: Ilan Assayag
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

Tens of millions of shekels from foreign workers’ deposits from their wages, which were supposed to be used for their welfare, were not used, a treasury official told the Special Committee on Foreign Workers this week.

The official said the treasury found 33 million shekels ($10.4 million) in deposits and does not know what to do with the money. The matter is now being reviewed, she said.

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The foreign workers’ deposit 16 percent of their wages, which their employers deduct and are supposed to deposit for the employees’ social services. The workers are supposed to receive the sums accumulated in their name at the end of their employment, on condition they leave the country.

The amendments passed in 2016 stipulate that deposits which are not returned to the workers would be allocated “for foreign workers’ welfare and health ... including the support and care of migrant infants and toddlers who have no legal status.”

The Finance Ministry’s employment coordinator, Tova Wasser, told the committee, chaired by Labor lawmaker Ibtisam Mara’ana, that the ministry is “trying to understand what happened to that money, what use it was put to, and we’ve found that there are 33 million shekels.”

Mara’ana demanded that the Finance Ministry submit its conclusions to the committee within two months.

“The foreign workers’ rights, as well as those of some employers who depend on them, have been abandoned and not been considered for years,” Mara’ana said in an interview. “The committee I’m heading will continue to oversee the relevant ministries’ activity in this matter.”

The Finance Ministry responded that the ministry had handled the money over the years in keeping with the government’s decision. “These days we’re mapping the needs to decide on how to use the deposit funds. The ministry will consult with the various ministries and will hear from other officials working on the matter.”

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