12/03/2018, 13.35
THAILAND – ISRAEL
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Exploitation of Thai workers sparks controversy with Israel

A documentary casts shadows on a 2012 farm labour agreement between Thailand and Israel, which has benefitted more than 25,000 Thai workers. According to the documentary, 172 migrants have died working in Israel, in many cases for unknown causes. Israel blames the Brugada syndrome.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Thai farm workers in Israel are forced to live in poor housing, are exposed to dangerous chemical, subject to unhealthy working conditions and are exploited, threatening their health, this according to a documentary, cited by foreign media. For the Israeli government, this image is “distorted”.

The claims were made public on 24 November, sparking controversy in Thailand. Israel responded five days later with a joint statement issued by the ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Welfare, and the Population and Immigration Authority.

The statement noted that the authorities employ “professional enforcement units [. . .] to supervise the employment of foreign workers, workplace safety, health and compliance with the state’s labour laws.”

It goes on to say that “The state obligates workers and employers to carry out training, to enforce hygiene and safety regulations and to employ necessary protection measures.”

Israel and Thailand signed an agricultural labour deal in 2012 to enrol Thai workers to work on Israeli farms.

The Thailand-Israel Cooperation on the Placement of Workers (TIC) agreement was implemented in cooperation with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Today there are some 25,000 workers in the country, and their rights are protected under Israeli law.

According to a documentary however, 172 Thai workers died because of poor working conditions, and in many cases the causes were unknown.

Israel’s Public Health Services in cooperation with the National Institute of Forensic Medicine investigated the matter, Israel’s Health Ministry said, confirming the hypothesis that their death was a result of the Brugada syndrome.

In a statement yesterday, the Israeli embassy in Bangkok reiterated that IOM received positive answers from Thai workers in Israel when it visited them in November.

When asked about their treatment, workers expressed high a level of satisfaction, with 95 per cent describing the agreement as "good to excellent".

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