SodaStream Claims They Are Creating Jobs for Palestinians…So What’s Wrong With That?Say No to SodaStream & Say Yes! to Human Rights Responds
What do you think? If a company provides jobs does that mean it’s off the work for human rights violations or what about violating international law?
Where do we draw the line, so to speak?
I have recently been asked by some friends and colleagues, what’s wrong with SodaStream if they are providing jobs to the Palestinian people?
This question was based solely on the assumption that just because a corporation is providing any kind of job it must inherently be good.
This type of logic completely overlooks the fact that SodaStream directly benefits from operating in Occupied Territory through tax breaks it receives and SodaStream also directly benefits the State of Israel by running its business in the Occupied Territory and paying taxes that go directly into illegal settlement building. The circumstances that allow a company such as SodaStream to operate illegally in the West Bank as well as the ongoing construction of the Apartheid Wall, road blocks and checkpoints all work to ensure that no viable Palestinian economy will come into existence any time soon. Simply put SodaStream profits from the occupation of Palestine.
SodaStream and other occupation profiteers also claim they are benefactors of the Palestinian people because they are providing jobs. However, this does not change the fact that SodaStream operates in the illegal West Bank settlement of Mish or Adumin Industrial Park in direct violation of international law and the Geneva Convention.
SodaStream’s main factory in Mishor Adumin Industrial Park, is located in Ma’ale Adumin, one the largest residential settlements located in East Jerusalem, and according to the Quaker report Unsettling Peace, is considered one of the largest expropriations of private Palestinian land during the occupation. SodaStream pays taxes to the Ma’ale Adumin Municipality and its revenues this directly fund the illegal settlement.
How Settlements Benefit: At the Expense of Palestinians
Did you know? The Quaker report discusses Israel’s exploitation of water resources in the Occupied Palestine at the expense of the local population. This is an ongoing violation of international law. Moreover, by continuing to import crops grown in settlements Europe and North America continue to contribute to this violation.
Settlements are also classified by Israel as “national priority areas”, which entitle them to many financial benefits and tax incentives. Settlements have also established agribusinesses and industrial zones (like Mishor Adumin) that manufacture goods for export to the EU and other international markets like the U.S. and Canada.
Let’s be clear: even if SodaStream has created jobs this does not change the fact that they operate illegally in the West Bank on Palestinian land.
It also doesn’t change the fact that the Jahalin Bedouin were relocated near a garbage dump for the development of Mishor Adumin and its residential settlement Ma’ale Adumin. The people, many of whom worked as herders, completely lost their traditional way of life.
The Electronic Intifada Interview
Previously on this blog we discussed the interview that Electronic Intifada conducted with the SodaStream employee named “M.” who spoke about his experiences working in the factory.
Let’s take a look inside again…..
M. describes the working week at the SodaStream factory as “from work to bed” and often employees end up working 60 hours in seven-day period because they work 4 days at 12 hours day, with two days off.
Yet SodaStream is breaking its own Israeli labour legislation…..the Israeli Hours of Work and Rest Law actually states that a working day “shall not exceed eight working hours” and the average for three weeks shall not exceed 45 hours per week. “M” also said that there is no extra pay for overtime or night shifts, which again violates Israeli legislation.
Moreover, because the Palestinian labourers are not allowed to live in the Israeli settlement, they must allow for two extra hours for transportation from the illegal settlement.
Fired For Being Sick
M. also discusses many of the job insecurities Palestinian labourers’ face:
“They treat us like slaves. This has happened many times on the assembly line: when a worker is sick and wants to take sick leave, the supervisor will fire him on the second day. They will not even give him warning or send him to human resources, they will immediately fire him.”
M. notes that the supervisors in the SodaStream factory are mainly Russians who are managed by white Jews, whereas the Palestinians are only the workers. He goes on to explain that Israelis are hired through SodaStream directly, while West Bank Palestinians require a special permit to be employed. Palestinian workers along with immigrant workers and African Jews work through external manpower companies and may be hired after nine months on the job if they are “good workers”, otherwise they are let go.
In terms of seniority, M. also notes that there are no Palestinians working in management in the factory and in the entire company there are only two foremen who are West Bank Palestinians and they are supervised by two Israeli Arabs.
While labourers at the SodaStream factory earn more than they would working for the Palestinian Authority, they still earn less than their Israeli counterparts. Workers are also not paid overtime or for working night shifts, a direct violation of Israeli law.
While Israel’s highest court ruled in 2008 that Israeli businesses in the West Bank are required to pay the Israeli minimum wage to Palestinian labourers, this is often not the case.
Kav LaOved has found that Palestinian labourers in illegal settlements like Mishor Adumin are actually paid less than 1/2 the minimum wage [about $24 Canadian per 12 hour work day],
Why Palestinians Work in Settlements
A recent United Nations Human Rights Council report describes settlement factories like Birnbaum’s as exerting “a heavy toll on Palestinians.”
Inflation, poverty, high unemployment rates and falling wages in the Palestinian labour market mean Palestinians seek employment in the settlements and Israel, and companies like SodaStream are ready to exploit them.
Who Profits has recently said that Israeli settlement companies like SodaStream do is exploit Palestinian labourers while at the same time claim that the work somehow benefits them.
Move Inside the Green Line
We have reported recently on this blog about several multinational firms that have shut down their West Bank operations including Unilever. SodaStream, however, has continued to operate illegally in Mishor Adumin Industrial Park in violation of international law. Say No to SodaStream and Say Yes! to Human Rights requests that SodaStream immediately begin moving its West Bank operation within the internationally recognized borders of Israel.
For more details see: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/sodastream-treats-us-like-slaves