Working in Israel’s Gaza Strip border area continues to be risky for Thai workers during the Israel-Palestine conflict.
After the deaths of two Thai workers last week, the Labour Ministry has issued an urgent order to stop sending workers to Israel temporarily for the sake of their safety.
Recent violence between Israel and Palestine was a matter of concern for the ministry, Phairoj Chotikasathien, deputy permanent secretary for labour said.
The government and Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin have asked the Royal Thai Embassy in Tel Aviv to monitor the situation and ensure Thais are safe. Israeli employers have been urged to help their Thai workers relocate to a safer place.
Most importantly, the ministry had put a hold on sending Thai workers to employers in the Gaza Strip.
At present, there are about 4,000 Thai workers working in agriculture in Gaza. No one has sought relocation so far, he said.
The latest group of over 200 Thai workers travelled to Israel on 19th May. Seven who were meant to work in Gaza will be relocated to other areas with the help of the Center for International Migration and Integration and the Population and Immigration Authority of Israel, Mr Chotikasathien said.
Israel had expressed confidence in its ability to control the situation with its missile defence system, he said.
The Royal Thai Embassy in Tel Aviv had laid out a plan to assist Thai workers. The plan covers assistance in situations of varying intensity levels.
“Thai workers in Israel have legal working status and are protected as well as their Israeli counterparts. If foreign workers are killed or wounded by a war-risk hazard, Israeli authorities will take full responsibility. They will receive compensation from the National Insurance Institute of Israel,” Mr Chotikasathien said.
In case of death, the spouse and children of the deceased will receive money every month until the spouse remarries or the children reach 18 years of age. The spouse will receive about 60% of 6,000 shekels (about 36,000 baht) each month and the child about 10-20% of 6,000 shekels (about 6,000-12,000 baht), he said.
In case of injury or disability, people with 0-10% injury or disability will not receive compensation. They will receive 10-19% of their total salary but not exceeding 150,000 shekels (about 1.5 million baht). Those with over 20% disability will receive monthly compensation until they die at a rate based on their disability. If their disability is 100%, they will receive about 6,000 shekels (about 60,000 baht) each month, he said.
Thais working abroad are members of a fund that provides assistance for Thai workers in foreign countries. They will receive up to 30,000 baht if they are injured and 80,000 baht in case of death. This comprises of 40,000 baht in financial assistance and the rest for funeral services.
Under the Thailand-Israel Cooperation on the Placement of Workers pact which came into effect in 2012, Thailand has a quota of 5,000 workers who can work in Israel. Some 3,100 have already travelled there to work under a three-year contract. If their employer wants to extend the contract, each Thai employee can continue to work for two years and three months more but has to return to Thailand after that.
There are 25,000 Thai workers in Israel. Each earns about 45,000-50,000 baht per month.
Thai workers are popular among Israeli employers, particularly in the agricultural sector, according to Mr Chotikasathien.
Thais who want to work in Israel are required to register with the Department of Employment and they will be selected randomly. Each person pays about 62,000 baht in travel costs consisting of 25,000 baht for an airline ticket, 33,000 baht for employment fees paid to Israeli agencies and 2,300 baht for COVID-19 testing.
“Thais working in the agricultural sector in Israel can benefit Thailand since Israel is advanced in agricultural technology and innovation. They can utilise their work experience in Israel to help increase productivity and teach farmers in Thailand about what they have learned,” he said.
On the COVID-19 situation, Mr Chotikasathien said the government and the labour minister were aware of the pandemic’s impacts on Thai workers and were trying to help them, especially by giving them jobs to provide for themselves and their families.
“It’s not easy to satisfy everyone’s needs but we are doing our best to take care of Thai workers who have families to take care of,” he said.