Bilateral Agreements, Precarious Work, and the Vulnerability of Migrant Workers in Israel

Nonna Kushnirovich, Rebeca Raijman


We examine the short-term and long-term impact of bilateral agreements on migrant workers’ vulnerability during their employment in Israel. To do so, we developed the Vulnerability Index of Migrant Workers based on five dimensions: poor working conditions, poor living conditions, poor safety conditions, low wages, and dependence on migration costs. We focus on migrant workers arriving in Israel from two different countries (China and Thailand), employed in two different sectors of the economy (construction and agriculture, respectively). Data was gathered through a survey conducted among workers arriving from both countries before and after the implementation of the bilateral agreements. The study revealed that after the implementation of bilateral agreements, the working, living and safety conditions of migrant workers remained poor or even worsened. For Thai workers, there was a slight improvement in the working and living conditions in the short term after the bilateral agreement, but they worsened in the long run. The total Index of Vulnerability of both groups showed improvement due to the dramatic decrease in dependence on migration costs, despite the deterioration in some working and living conditions and the reduction in migrant workers’ relative wages.

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