90% of Tel Aviv Businesses Exploit Foreign Workers' Rights, Investigators Find

Interviewing 120 foreign workers at 63 businesses in the city on Tuesday night, the inspectors ended up opening files against 57 of the establishments.

In the kickoff of a campaign to stop exploitation of foreign workers, state inspectors in Tel Aviv found indications that 90 percent of the businesses they checked this week were indeed violating their workers’ legal rights, the Economy Ministry said Wednesday.

Interviewing 120 foreign workers at 63 businesses in the city on Tuesday night, the inspectors ended up opening files against 57 of the establishments. The suspicions included failure to pay minimum wage, failure to pay overtime compensation, delaying payment, excessive work hours and failure to provide vacation time. Fifty inspectors took part in the sweep.

"We are doing right by exploited workers [working] under substandard conditions,” said Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. “We will continue to be on the ground. We will not allow [businesses] to treat the law as just some sort of recommendation.”

The Economy Ministry has opened more than 1,700 investigations on employers since the start of 2013, 60% of them due to worker complaints. Close to 5,000 workers have been questioned in enforcement activities since the beginning of the year, including 700 foreign workers.

Tali Mayer