Right-Wing Coalition Indifferent to Construction Accidents

Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) criticized the right-wing and neo-liberal governmental coalition during a meeting of the Knesset’s Labor and Welfare Committee devoted to construction accidents. According to MK Khenin, “The picture is terrible. There are more accidents, more fatal accidents, more injuries, and more irresponsibility. There is less information and less supervision. Some accidents aren’t even reported. Supervision has become a complete farce. We need to immediately allocate far more money to stem this scourge: for 10 times as many vehicles, 10 times as many inspectors, and 10 times as many investigators.”


Khenin continued: “I just came here from a meeting of the Finance Committee, where they have suddenly found 15 billion shekels (US$4.7 billion). This money would solve all our problems here. But the coalition chooses to use this money to increase the budget for settlements and for the army. I demand that at least this much money be allocated to address construction work accidents, to ensure that no worker is killed this week.”

Every year, about 30 construction workers are killed in Israel, representing about half of all those killed in work accidents. The National Insurance Institute reports about 6,000 cases of construction workers being injured every year, but the true number is actually higher. Suheil Diab, a leading Hadash union activist and member of the Histadrut Executive Committee asked: “How does such a scandalous failure keep reoccurring without any public reaction? It’s hard not to suspect that the reason stems from the fact that most people hurt in these accidents are Arab citizens of Israel, Palestinian residents of the occupied territories, labor migrants and asylum seekers. Even those Jews who meet tragic deaths in such accidents are evidently people far removed from the circles with influence in the Knesset, the cabinet and the media. Certainly they are much farther away than the contractors, whose pocketbooks and freedom would be negatively affected by the enactment and enforcement of improved safety regulations, severe punishments for violating them, and large compensation payments to people who are injured. Far from the public eye, for construction workers there is no justice and no judge; no inspector and no real interest.”