Indonesia moves to protect workers

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Sep 5 2008

For many years Indonesian workers in the Gulf, specifically in Saudi Arabia, were angered at the fact that they had no form of support from their governments. Indonesian embassies often had "no comment" concerning situations having to do with abuse against Indonesian maids. Cases like these were never visibly condemned and no one sought real justice for these victims' families in Indonesia.

It is therefore slightly promising to see Indonesia finally being willing to take action after at least a decade of us hearing brutal stories of maids being tortured, killed (either directly or due to suicide), raped, or psychologically abused:

Indonesia moves to protect workers
K.S. Ramkumar I Arab News

JEDDAH: The delay in the recruitment of Indonesian housemaids and drivers has prompted Jakarta to set up a commission to look into the interests of Indonesian workers, including their overseas employment, training and health.

What has also resulted in the appointment of the commission is the growing woes of Indonesian migrant workers, an official at the Consulate General of Indonesia told Arab News yesterday. The workers, especially housemaids, consistently complain against their employers of physical abuse and nonpayment of wages, and also for not granting weekly days off and annual leaves. Their complaints also relate to the harassment caused by some unscrupulous recruitment agencies.

“The commission is meant to protect the country’s overseas workers and also focus on their issues. It will essentially streamline the process of their recruitment, travel and visa documents, and even provide training to those heading abroad,” he said quoting Brymo Alvi Paulinto, Indonesian undersecretary for Asia Pacific and Africa.

The National Committee for Workers Recruitment at the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce expects the recruitment of Indonesian workers to resume in about six months. The delay is attributed to a 40 percent rise in the cost of recruitment and lengthy recruitment procedures adopted by certain countries in sending their labor.

“There is a shortage of domestic workers in Saudi Arabia,” a council member said. In fact a reduction in the number of Indonesian domestic workers is responsible for a major crisis in the Saudi recruitment market. Visas are accumulated at Indonesian recruitment offices because no worker can be recruited. The crisis has caused problems for recruiters and also for those seeking jobs. In fact, some companies have filed official complaints against recruitment agencies for failing to deliver workers as agreed upon, he said.

We hope that these are not false promises. We hope that the Saudi government itself will also move in a direction where all workers will be protected by law.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East