Bulgaria Closes Workers Camp in Israel over Poor Conditions
Bulgarian construction workers will be no longer accommodated in temporary camps in Israel and in poor living conditions.
The statement was made Saturday by the CEO of the Bulgarian Employment Agency, Kameliya Lozanova, addressing reports that Bulgarian workers, sent to Israel under and inter-government agreement, live in deplorable conditions.
A quota of 3 500 workers was negotiated at the beginning of 2012 over the mass construction of residential buildings in Israel and the reputed skills of Bulgarians. Under the agreement, the latter have the right to stay in Israel for no longer than one year and must be paid at least USD 1 500 a month.
It emerged at the end of December 2012, that about 50 of these workers have been accommodated in a temporary camp and the conditions were unbearable. Some of them even complained that there were discrepancies between the promised type of work and the one provided in reality.
Lozanova says the workers would be moved by January 18, and the camp closed. She noted accommodations in temporary camps are admissible under the agreement, but only in extreme situations such as military attacks.
The Employment Agency CEO stated the authorities in Israel were investigating the employers who have hired the Bulgarian workers on suspicions of violating labor legislation and the inter-government agreement.
750 Bulgarian workers are already in Israel under the agreement and another 50 are departing on January 14.
Lozanova noted that some of them did not have the qualifications to be construction workers and were sent as general help, adding the complaint, most likely, came from them. She was firm no one has left without a signed labor contract.
Employers from Israel are quoted saying a few of the Bulgarians were left without work temporarily, but this would not reflect on their pay.
According to Lozanova, all Bulgarians would receive full salaries for the time spent in Israel regardless of having or not having work to do.
Representatives of the governments of the two countries will meet on February 5 to approve additional guarantees for Bulgarian workers in Israel.