Yishai seeks protection for vulnerable workers

The law memorandum is in response to repeated violations of labor laws which particularly affect vulnerable workers.

Vulnerable workers in the cleaning, security, and restaurant sectors need legislative protection against exploitation, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai said in a letter to Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann on Sunday. Yishai approved the distribution of a memorandum of a draft bill calling for financial penalties to be placed on employers in those industries who violate labor laws, describing the bill as an "innovative approach in… social solidarity in which worker's rights take center stage." The draft bill also calls for a close monitoring of work contracts, as well as the provision of options to employees to sue their employers in a civil procedure. The proposals were made by a steering committee appointed by the ministry in April 2006, and have the approval of the Finance Ministry's Budget Supervisor, 11 worker's rights groups, and Histadrut Labor Federation Chairman Ofer Eini. In a statement, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry said the law memorandum was a response to repeated violations of labor laws which particularly affect vulnerable workers. "An efficient enforcement of salary and social rights is the proper way to fight poverty, which is only growing with time," the ministry said. Over the past few years, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, has put much emphasis on increasing the proper enforcement of labor laws. In 2007, the ministry's labor laws enforcement division received 2,200 complaints over violation of labor laws compared with 1,300 in the previous year. The ministry opened 2,264 investigations last year, and handed down 460 fines, totalling NIS 3.9 million compared with fines of a total of NIS 3.3m. in 2006.