Daily Israel Report

MK Katz: Jewish Labor a Vision, Foreign Workers an Urgent Need

Practical planning: MK Ya’akov Katz (Ketzaleh), at Israel’s construction sites, on how to increase homegrown work corps.
By Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski
First Publish: 12/19/2010, 9:28 PM / Last Update: 12/20/2010, 8:08 AM

MK Ya’akov “Ketzaleh” Katz, chairman of the Knesset’s Committee for Foreign Workers, toured on Sunday two Israeli construction sites as well a school which trains Israelis in the field of construction, in order to discuss the shortage of workers in Israel’s construction field.

During the visits, Katz, who actively worked together with several government offices to promote the opening of training courses in construction for Israelis, met with the contractors of two large Israeli companies (Danya Sibus in Ramla and U. Dori in Tel Aviv) as well as with Israeli workers who have passed the training courses. After visiting the construction sites Katz also visited the school in Holon where these training courses take place.

Katz explained that despite the decision which he supports and is now implementing, to slowly eliminate foreign construction workers in Israel and replace them with local workers, there is a more urgent need to complete construction. The reduction in the number of foreign workers, explained Katz, severely damages the schedule of construction projects, slows down the pace of construction, and increases the cost of many projects.

“[Prime Minister Netanyahu] does not understand that the target now must be affordable housing for young couples,” said Katz. “The complex theories whereby if we confine the quota of foreign workers there would be an increase in an hour's wage for Israeli workers and the Israeli masses will flock to work in the construction industry do not meet the reality test.. After all, even if tomorrow hundreds of additional acres of land are released for construction – there is no one to build on them. The reduction of foreign workers can be a means, but the target must be affordable housing. [Netanyahu] has to pull himself together and enable the means to reach the target and not vice versa.”