Conflict & Justice

Sushi strike in Israel

This is one of Israel's premier sushi restaurants. The sushi here would never make the grade without this Thai chef. He and some 900 other foreign chefs are in danger of losing their jobs next year under a new law designed to protect Israeli workers, which eliminates a visa for low-skilled chefs or chefs who work for low wages. The sushi chef has made enough money over the past three years to send his children to school in Thailand. The Israeli government says locals can be trained to replace him, but he says his learning wasn't easy or quick, it took him six years. The alternative is to raise the pay for Asian chefs and bring them in on high skill visas. Proprietors say they can't afford that. This business owner says the result is devastation for the Israeli economy. He says his foreign chefs are in fact creating jobs by making it possible for restaurants like his to operate; he has four Thai chefs but 31 Israeli employees. He says the Israelis are either unskilled or unwilling to do the work that these Thai chefs do. And that brings us to the sushi strike. Two weeks ago there was an egg roll strike, but now the sushi strike will make a bigger impact. After the sushi strike, the restaurants are challenging the law in Israel's Supreme Court but if the law stands, all of Israel's sushi will be made by Israelis next year.