Israel considers taking more Thai workers
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Israel considers taking more Thai workers

Labour minister in Tel Aviv to discuss opportunities in non-farm sectors including construction

Labour Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn meets Thai workers at a fruit and flower market in Israel. (Photo: Ministry of Labour)
Labour Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn meets Thai workers at a fruit and flower market in Israel. (Photo: Ministry of Labour)

Israel has warmed to Thailand’s proposal calling for a substantial increase in the number of farm workers sent there from 6,000 to 20,000 per year, according to Labour Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

Mr Phiphat made the comment on Tuesday as he led a Thai delegation to Israel, where both sides discussed the labour situation and opportunities in Tel Aviv.

Thai participants included Pairoj Chotikasathien, the permanent secretary for labour; Wichit Intrajareon, the deputy director-general of the Employment Department, and other senior labour officials. Mr Phiphat met with Israeli Interior Minister Moshe Arbel, Labour Minister Yoav Ben-Tzur and Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Avi Dichter.

All the Israeli ministers expressed a positive attitude towards Thai workers and acknowledged the bonds between Israeli employers and Thai workers.

The Thai delegation made proposed three proposals to the Israeli government: lifting the number of farm workers from 6,000 a year at present to 20,000; making Thais who have worked for at least five years and three months in Israel eligible to return to take up employment there; and increasing construction worker numbers via a government-to-government employment contract.

The proposals received positive feedback from the Israeli authorities, Mr Phiphat said, adding that Israel needs at least an extra 25,000 construction workers.

About 30,000 Thai nationals were working in Israel, 95% of them in the agricultural sector, before the Oct 7 attacks by Hamas last year. The government repatriated almost 9,500 workers, and Israel has faced labour shortages in its farm sector since that time. Many Thais have expressed an interest in going back, despite the risks.

The Thai delegation has sought help from the Agriculture and Rural Development minister to provide safety for Thai workers and ensure employers assign workers to high-security areas.

In addition, the delegation asked Israel to consider offering internships to Thai students. The Israeli government has said relevant agencies will discuss the request, Mr Phiphat said.

Finally, The delegation spoke with the Israeli labour minister about bringing in more Thai workers to fill job vacancies in the hospitality sector, the labour minister added.

Earlier, Mr Phiphat and labour officials met with Chemo Aharon Co Ltd, a leading private contractor in Israel, which had shown an interest in bringing in additional Thai workers for a new project.

They agreed to an extra 2,300 workers: 300 welders and the rest construction workers.

Currently, 271 Thais are working on an oil pipeline project in Ashdod in various positions, such as engineers, welders, painters and pipe fitters.

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