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HaNoar HaOved youth movement trains 200 youth counselors from Arab-Israeli society to protect youth

[Translated from Davar]

November 22, 2021

By Nitzan Tzvi Cohen

Participants in the program promote youth awareness of rights at work and some of them also provide legal assistance to youth | Ihab Abu Leil, Program Coordinator: "A Historic Program in Israeli and Arab Society"

Approximately 200 HaNoar HaOved coordinators and counselors of the youth movement’s Arab section gathered last week for a seminar on youth rights at work.

"The mission of our program is for all youth movement counselors from junior counselors to national service to branch coordinators to serve as ambassadors and envoys promoting the rights of youth workers in Arab society," program coordinator Ihab Abu Leil told Davar.

Ihab Abu Leil (Photo: HaNoar HaOved youth movement)

"We have thousands of young people in Arab society who work in very difficult conditions," says Abu Leil, noting that the fields of employment range from waitresses and the restaurant industry to garages and factories. “These are various different kinds of jobs, and some of them are dangerous."

In recent years, for example, the youth movement has worked to ban minors from construction work after several cases of boys being killed while working at construction sites during school vacations. "Unfortunately, our youth are often exposed to conditions of exploitation, do not receive the minimum wage, are denied breaks, or are required to perform dangerous work. It is important for us to be someone who these teens can turn to, so they know there is someone looking out for them,” he adds.

About 850 young instructors have undergone this extensive training.

The program was begun last summer at the youth movement Arab section’s annual summer junior counselor training seminar, when 850 trainees participated in an extensive workshop about youth rights at work, alongside their regular training to as junior counselors to run activities, trips and games for young children.

Now, the project is expanding through more comprehensive training for adult counselors and national service counselors, who are learning to help youth workers who contact the youth movement for assistance, to conduct workplace tours, to have conversations with teens and employers, and to hold fair job fairs.

This coming January, the branches are planning a Justice Week, during which they will teach workshops at schools, hang signs on the subject in localities and intersections and increase awareness.

According to Abu Leil, "This is a historic program for both Arab and Israeli society, done in partnership with HaNoar HaOved, the Histadrut and USAID, and is also expected to host youth encounters of Jews and Arabs around the shared interest of safeguarding the rights of youth at work."

As part of the program, six local youth movement coordinators in Arab society were trained for as trade union staff, in which capacity they will be able to guide youth in legal proceedings in labor court. The program is also establishing a situation room and an Arabic-language phone hotline on the subject of youth rights at work at *1121.

Amir Taib, who founded and coordinated the youth movement branches in Umm Batin and the Al-Kasom Regional Council in the Negev, and today coordinates the youth movement’s trade union activity in the Arab branches, tells us that he recently toured workplaces in the Negev where Bedouin youth are employed.

"I met teenagers who do not know their rights, a lot of young people who do not know how to read a pay slip and have worked at the same place for three or four years without knowing that they do not receive pension benefits, or their travel or social benefits by law," he says.

Amir Taib (Photo: HaNoar HaOved)

"These days I'm preparing a complaint for a fast food chain employee who was fired without a hearing, when the employer tried to claim she resigned to avoid paying her compensation," Taib says. "I recently assisted two girls who worked in a factory that then closed. They were placed there through a manpower contractor who is a relative of theirs and when the factory closed he did not want to pay them. I talked to him, he understood and I managed to get him to pay them.”

According to him, there is also a widespread problem of young people and teenagers working without pay slips (“under the table”), a phenomenon that has grown against the background of the COVID pandemic, when many young people entered the labor market in order to help their families.

Abu Leil highlights that guidance and assistance provided by the youth movement is not only for members of the movement, but for any and all young workers up to age 25. "We do not check what a youth movement the young worker belongs to," he explains, "We do not care what gender, what religion or what race they are. What's important to us is to protect their rights in the workplace. It is important for us to help youth understand the relationship between their rights as workers and the ideas of social justice and equality.”

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