Thai workers leave for jobs in Israel

Thai workers leave for jobs in Israel

The 214 Thai workers gather at Suvarnabhumi airport on Wednesday before leaving for Israel to work in the agricultural sector. (Photo from @ThailandMOL Ministry of Labour Facebook page)
The 214 Thai workers gather at Suvarnabhumi airport on Wednesday before leaving for Israel to work in the agricultural sector. (Photo from @ThailandMOL Ministry of Labour Facebook page)

About 200 Thais left to work on farms in Israel on Wednesday on a flight arranged by the Labour Ministry, which declared the Covid-19 situation is "easing".

Thiwalrat Angkinan, adviser to the labour minister, and deputy permanent secretary for labour Thianrat Nawamawat were at Suvarnabhumi airport to see them off, according to the ministry's Facebook page.

Two groups, totalling 214, left for Israel - 131 newly hired workers and temporary resettlement workers in Thailand who had delayed their trip to Israel due to the Covid-19 outbreak since February; and 83 others whose Israeli employers had asked them to return, Ms Thiwalrat said.

Ms Thiwalrat said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had placed emphasis on sending workers abroad. Normally, more than 100,000 Thai workers go overseas to work each year,  remitting 100 billion baht back to the country, according to the statement posted on Facebook.

The coronavirus pandemic caused the ministry to suspend the departure of workers to jobs overseas. The Covid-19 situation had now eased to some extent, due to measures taken by the government, she said. 

In past years, the Employment Department had sent Thais to work in the agricultural sector in Israel under a state-to state labour cooperation scheme first implemented in 2010, the labour minister's adviser said.

The 214 workers boarded an Air Asia X charter flight, XJ208, which left Suvarnabhumi airport at 12.40pm, and was scheduled to arrive at Ben Gurion airport in Israel at 7.45pm.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin sent his best wishes and asked them to abide by laws and culture of Israel and keep away from drugs and alcohol, and pay heed to state measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, Ms Thiwalrat said.

Israel ranks 24th globally for Covid-19 infections, while Thailand ranks 137th. Israel currently has the world's highest weekly infection rate per capita.

AFP reported that Israel's parliament approved a law early on Wednesday restricting demonstrations as part of a coronavirus-related state of emergency, which critics say is aimed at silencing protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The law, which passed its final reading by 46 votes to 38, is part of a slew of measures approved by parliament tightening a second nationwide lockdown.

The lockdown, which went into force on Sept 18, shutters the majority of workplaces, markets, places of worship, schools and cultural venues.

It also bans journeys of more than a kilometre  from home, other than for essential purposes such as buying food and medicine or receiving medical treatment.

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