Volume 27, 2011
Modernization in Times of Globalization II
Rebeca Raijman, Adriana Kemp
Labor Migration in Israel
The Creation of a Non-free Workforce
This paper describes the ways by which state regulations created fertile soil on which legal labor migration in Israel developed into an unfree labor force. We show how state policies effectively subject foreign workers to a high degree of regulation, giving employers and manpower agencies mechanisms of control that they do not have over Israeli citizens. These mechanisms create a group of non-citizen workers that are more desirable as cheap, flexible, exploitable and expendable employees through enforcing atypical employment relations: fixed-term contracts, the binding system enforcing direct dependence of the migrants on manpower agencies and employers, and the threat of automatic deportation. These stringent state regulations have provided the context for the legal labor migrants to turn into a captive labor force, the system sometimes even degenerating into a human trafficking industry.