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Indonesia: House Postpones the Deliberation of the Long Overdue Domestic Workers Protection Bill; Domestic Workers' Voices Are Being Neglected.

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by IDWFED published Jul 16, 2020 12:00 AM
IDWF and JALA PRT deeply regret the postponing of this bill that left almost 5 million DWs in the country unprotected. DWs and their families are among the marginalized communities that are living in poverty. The government can no longer neglect and put the fates of the 5 million people afloat.

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The Indonesian House of Representatives decided to postpone the deliberation of the decade long proposed Domestic Workers Protection Bill. The House left the bill out of its list of initiatives during the plenary session on July 16th 2020. Domestic workers (DW) and activists were hopeful after The House included the Bill in the National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) in the beginning of 2020 and after the House Legislation Body (Baleg) agreed to endorse the bill on July 1st. However, Baleg did not succeed to get The House speakers to endorse the Bill as an initiative of The House in the July 16 plenary. Now, DWs and activists are in dismay.

IDWF affiliate, JALA PRT (The National Network for DW Advocacy) has been striving to fight for this law for 16 years. In 2004, the draft bill was “parked” in The House’ Prolegnas until 2009. After so many direct actions and lobbying, The House of Representatives agreed to table it again in 2010. At the time, they spent plenty of resources conducting a study tour and visit to the House Representatives of South Africa and Argentina.

“But they suspended it again in 2014. The period of 2014 – 2019 was a dark moment for our advocacy as the Bill was taken out of the Prolegnas. Now we certainly do not want to repeat the dark past!” Said Lita Anggraini, the coordinator of JALA PRT.

The ILO (2015) estimates that there are 4.2 million DWs in the country and the numbers are continuedly increasing. However, even with this high number DWs are left unprotected. A survey of JALA PRT in 2019 found out that most DWs only received 30% of the minimum wage. Many have no access to days off, annual leave or maternity protection. Also, they are excluded from the social security scheme and have no freedom of association. Despite this difficult situation, JALA PRT has helped organize thousands of DWs into unions. These unions are now spread in 7 different provinces with more than 8000 members who are very active in voicing out their rights through direct actions, recruiting more members and internet campaigns. “We are very disappointed with the Parliament’s decision. What we ask is not much, but we really need the rights and social protection just like other workers.” Said Noer Khasanah, a DWs union member in Semarang, Indonesia.

The current proposed Bill contains several key provisions, including a provision on direct and indirect recruitment. It also grants DWs the right to decent working hours, a day off consisting of uninterrupted 24 hours, annual leaves and social protection, including health, work accident and old age insurance. It also regulates criminal provisions to protect DWs from discrimination, exploitation, harassment and violence by employers and placement agencies. There is no minimum wage protection and collective bargaining being proposed on the bill.

However modest the provisions are, many political factions still couldn’t agree with the bill in fear of the formalization of the sector although that is not the case, according to Willy Aditya – Nasdem Party and Chairman of the Bill Working Committee – interviewed by The Jakarta Post. The bill, he further explained, regulated work relations between employers and workers in a socio-cultural manner that should be based on working contract to ensure decent working hours and fulfilment of DWs rights.

“I’ve done my best to convince the House Leaders, but they want to delay the Bill. Hopefully, we still have a way to resolve it” said Willy in the interview. He further added that his party will continue to seek support from PDI-P and Golkar – the two largest parties.

IDWF and JALA PRT deeply regret the postponing of this bill that left almost 5 million DWs in the country unprotected. DWs and their families are among the marginalized communities that are living in poverty. The government can no longer neglect and put the fates of the 5 million people afloat.

“This is now the time that we put an end to discrimination against DWs and move away from feudal perspective.” Said Lita.

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Story Type: News

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