Official data: most Palestinian workers have no contract, paid less than Israelis

Published by MEMO Middle East Monitor

Friday, 6 March 2015

The number of Palestinians from the West Bank working in the Israeli economy has doubled in the past four years. The new official Israeli data also confirms a significant wage disparity between Israeli and Palestinian employees.

In 2014, there were around 92,000 Palestinians working in the Israeli economy, of whom around 59,000 had a permit and some 33,000 did not.

The total figure constitutes 2.2 percent of the total employees in the Israeli economy (and 11.7 percent of the total Palestinian workforce in the West Bank).

About half of the Palestinians who worked in the Israeli economy in 2013 were employed in the construction industry (a number that accounted for 15.3 percent of all employees in that sector).

In companies that employed both Israelis and Palestinians, Israeli workers earned an average salary of NIS 8,600 in their first year of tenure, while Palestinian workers earned NIS 3,700 – less than half. This disparity only increased the more years a worker was with the same employer.

Moreover, just 2 percent of Palestinian workers with permits reported having a written work contract or collective agreement, and only 40 percent reported even a verbal work contract.

Overall, 58 percent of Palestinians with a work permit reported having no work contract at all, a figure rising to 73 percent for those without a permit.

The average daily wage of workers holding permits in 2013 was NIS 186, compared to NIS 158 for those without a permit. The average daily wage in the West Bank in 2013 was NIS 87.

The official figures are published as a report by the State Comptroller states that “the rights of Palestinian workers” in the construction sector are not being protected, with authorities failing to “equalize the salary and employment rights of Palestinian workers to those of Israeli workers.”

Responding to these developments, workers’ rights NGO Kav LaOved has called on the Payroll Department at the Population, Immigration, and Border Authority to take “immediate action towards the full regulation of pension insurance for Palestinian workers.”

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