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Indonesia bans domestic workers to 21 Middle East Countries

by Fish Ip published May 06, 2015 01:09 PM
Indonesia announced on Monday, 4 May, that the country is banning domestic workers to go to Middle East to work. But we say this is not a solution to protect workers.


The 21 Middle East countries include  Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Egypt, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, Yemen and Jordan. The Manpower and Transmigration Minister Hanif Dhakiri said that there were many problems as there were rampant violation of labour norms and human trafficking. The ban will come into effect in three months' time. For Indonesian migrant domestic workers who are already working in the Middle East can continue to work there.

Hanif said the protection on workers is weak. The "kafala" system in these countries also puts workers into weak bargaining position. "Kafala" system restricts migrant workers to change employers without the permission of their original employer's permission.

Hanif added that the wage level in these countries is around USD210 which is about the minimum wage level in Jakarta. The decision was a reflection of an order made by President Jokowi in February to set a road map to eventually stop migrant domestic workers abroad. 

However, IDWF affiliate in Indonesia, the Jala PRT, the National Network on Advocacy for Domestic Workers, criticized the decision as this is not a solution to tackle the problems of abuses suffered by migrant domestic workers. The ban is also against the right of domestic workers to work and migrate.

"Indonesia government must  provide protection and decent work for domestic workers both working in the country and abroad." said Lita Anggraini, the national coordinator of Jala PRT.  " The governments must ratify and apply international conventions on domestic workers and labour migration like ILO Conention 189, 97, 143. Adopt and implement law and policies to protect domestic workers. They must ensure fundamental principles and requirements to ensure workers' rights in Indonesia and in destination countries." Lita added.

Middle east countries are not safe for domestic workers, Indonesia neither. The state does not recognize domestic workers as workers.  There are no protection on them. Similar to the Middle East, abuses against domestic workers are rampant, also in Indonesia itself.  

There are 10 million domestic workers with 4 million working in the country and 6 million abroad, according to Jala PRT. Jala PRT has been advocating for the adoption of domestic workers bill for over 10 years. They also are working with migrant groups on the review of National Law no. 39/2004, the Placement and Protection of Migrant Workers. 

For more details:
Press release, 4 May 2015, Ministry of Manpower of the Republic of Indonesia (in Bahasa Indonesia)
the Guardian

Source: Fish Ip

Story Type: Update

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