India: Unions denounce gov’t plan to send migrant construction workers to Israel

Construction trade unions in India, together with national centres, strongly objected to their government’s attempts to negotiate the export of Indian migrant workers to Israel to replace Palestinian construction workers.


Before the escalation of the conflict, Palestinian workers constituted a majority of the workforce in Israel’s construction sector, which is now grappling with a severe labour shortage. In the wake of the Hamas attacks on 7 October, the work permits of 90,000 Palestinian workers in the construction sector were cancelled, which has put the workers in a highly vulnerable situation. A statement by the Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions and Independent Federations revealed the plan of the Indian government to export a corresponding 90,000 construction workers to Israel, upon the demand of the Israeli government as a response to the country’s labour shortage in the construction sector.


“Workers are not commodities,” said INBCWWF President Rama Chandra Khuntia, who is also the Chair of the BWI Working Group on Migration. “They must be treated with dignity and respect, and not be traded like mere factors of production to any other countries, let alone countries at war, in the name of good relations between like-minded governments. ”


"For us, a worker is a worker. Regardless of his or her origin country. Workers’ solidarity transcend the borders and we will always stand against any attempt to pit workers one against the other. We should not add to their misery and hardship. Indian construction workers will not be complicit of the inhumanity that is being perpetrated against thousands of Palestinian workers, and will continue to stand side by side with their brothers and sisters who lost their jobs, livelihoods and families," Khuntia said.


BWI closely monitors the situation, expresses significant concerns about weaponising workers, and provides solidarity support to workers adversely affected by the conflict. 

(Photo: Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)