Ruth Sinai of Ha'aretz makes the claim in discussing the plight of Israeli-Arab job seekers in Nazareth.The article covers the story of one girl who went from sub-minimum-wage-paying job to sub-minimum-wage-paying job until she landed in a factory where they actually cared about the law. Now she gets minimum wage and legal benefits and is understandably much happier.
The article also discusses the rise of organizations to help “fight for Arab women's wages” in Nazareth. Although having local help is important, they should join forces to empower national organizations like Kav LaOved (“Workers' Hotline”) which can more effectively lobby the government or take legal action.
The important subtext of the article is that worker exploitation in Israel in general is still a big problem. Although the situation continues to improve, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Israel Police have a lot of work to do in getting more business owners to respect the law. It sounds like Nazareth is a good place to start but the sad reality is that there are bad employers across the country.
The other side of the coin is that you need to know what your rights are to avoid being taken advantage of. If job seekers, even desperate ones, refuse to work for criminal employers then many of them will have no choice but to change their ways or get out of business.
Not to disparage Israeli-Arab women but I actually disagree with Ms. Sinai's claim. The most exploited workers in Israel are the people – mostly women – forced into the sex trade, legal or not.
If you have any stories about illegal employment practices and exploitation, please tell us in the comments. Have you ever had to deal with being paid below minimum wage or not being allowed vacation?