The Association of Contractors and Builders in Israel appealed Sunday to the High Court against the government, requesting to annul its decision to limit the number of labor migrants permitted in the construction industry and the deportations of such workers expected as a result of the decision.
At the end of 2009, the government decided to reduce the number of migrant laborers to 5,000 per year instead of 8,000, which will mean the deportation of some 3,000 currently in Israel, which was due to begin on June 30. Next week, the Interior Ministry is to deport those who have been in Israel for more than three months.
The decision is intended to open places of work for Israelis, but the contractors claim that there are not enough Israelis with the required skills for this industry.
The Association, represented by Att. Ilan Bombach and Att. Yariv Ronen, is asking the court to issue an injunction postponing the government decision until a sufficient number of Israelis have been trained.
Implementation of the decision, the Association claims, will constitute a violation of the workers' rights and a violation of the contractors' freedom of occupation, and will harm the economy. The deportations will result in delays in home construction, raise housing prices, and indirectly cause unemployment because the delayed projects, the Association claims, will also affect Israelis' livelihoods.
The appeal of the Association of Contractors and Builders comes after an appeal submitted last week by 600 migrant laborers from China in the name of 3,000 slated for deportation to protest the move.
Israelis don't want to build
"We are in favor of the government decision," said Bombach to Ynet. "We want Israelis to integrate into the industry. We are crying out for Israeli hands, and Israelis get preference whenever possible. But currently there are not enough Israeli workers, and someone has to do the dirty work and build. Many construction companies have done a lot to tempt Israelis into construction – they offered courses and training – but Israelis don’t come to the courses and don't want to work in this industry."
On one hand you're blaming the government for not training workers, and on the other hand you're saying Israelis don't want to work.
"True. At present, neither the government nor the contractors have managed to find an alternative to the migrant laborers, despite all the best intentions, and that's why we need them here."
Perhaps you could suggest raising wages, and then Israelis will come instead of migrant laborers.
"Raising wages is all very nice, but it will be reflected in higher housing prices, even higher than they already are, and the same people calling for deportation of the migrant laborers are the ones who'll feel the rise."
"The government is in denial regarding its contractual, legal and public obligation towards the contractors and many in Israel to train Israelis as an alternative to the migrant laborers," the appeal notes.
"Postponing the deportation will harm the State negligibly, if at all, while deportation will cause irreversible harm to human rights, will send shockwaves through the construction industry and the Israeli economy in general, and will even prevent the possibility of submitting an appeal in the future to protect them (because the workers will no longer be here and an appeal will not be able to bring them back). The government is indifferent to the terrible situation likely to develop after the migrant workers are deported."