Indonesia may stop sending maids abroad
Indonesia may stop sending maids abroad
After Saudi Arabia beheaded an Indonesian maid for murder last year, there was a national outcry in the East Asian nation.
Now the Indonesian government is planning to stop sending maids abroad by 2017 amid reports that several maids are enduring abuse.
Currently, more than 60 Indonesian workers are currently facing the death penalty around the world.
Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen reports from Jakarta.
|Jakarta plans to stop sending maids by 2017|
The Straits Times
Publication Date : 05-01-2012
Indonesia is looking to stop sending its nationals to work as maids abroad by 2017, under a “roadmap” it is drawing up to reform and formalise its domestic worker sector.
Under the Domestic Worker Roadmap 2017, it wants to ensure maids are treated like other workers when they work abroad – earning minimum wages, getting leave and working fixed hours, for example.
The plan is part of a larger aim to raise the skills of the thousands of Indonesians going overseas to work, according to the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry.
If it is carried out, however, it could mean a massive shortage of maids for places like Singapore and Malaysia, both of which rely heavily on domestic workers from Indonesia.
Indonesians account for almost half of Singapore’s 200,000-plus maids, and 80 per cent of Malaysia’s 350,000 maids.
“Under the roadmap, we target zero sending out of domestic maids,” Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar was quoted by news reports as saying yesterday.
He acknowledged, however, that the task would be a challenging one, as most Indonesians seeking jobs abroad are low-skilled.
Some criticised the idea for being difficult to implement.
The roadmap comes amid ongoing efforts by Jakarta to address maid abuse abroad.
In 2009, Indonesia banned maids from going to Malaysia following a spate of abuse cases. The ban was lifted last year after Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur hammered out an agreement on a slew of measures to better protect maids working in Malaysia.
Jakarta was also reported to be reviewing which countries it will allow maids to work in.
About 650,000 Indonesians leave home every year to work as maids abroad, many of them from East Java and West Nusa Tenggara provinces.
Under the roadmap being drawn up, Jakarta could require host countries to spell out job specifications for maids clearly.
“They should be placed in specific positions such as cook, housekeeper or caregiver,” Mr Muhaimin was quoted by Bernama as saying.
He added that these workers should also enjoy the usual rights that their formal counterparts get, such as predetermined working hours, leave, minimum wages and “social guarantees”.
But the minister also acknowledged that Jakarta would have to deal with several challenges when implementing the plan, including providing alternative jobs in Indonesia.
Some 45 per cent of the country’s 120 million-strong workforce have no more than primary school education, the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry noted.
Mr Muhaimin said the government was working to enhance the skills and competency levels of the country’s workers in the industrial and creative economic sectors.
Critics, however, said the roadmap was unworkable.
Activist Syaiful Anas at the Jakarta-based Migrant Care, a non-governmental group that looks out for migrant workers, said the government should improve the protection of maids instead of trying to stop them from going overseas to work.
The plan, he charged, contradicts a recent statement by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that Indonesia recognises maids as belonging to a proper profession.
“It’s hard to believe Muhaimin made such statements… we all know there are still many who need to be maids,” he told The Straits Times.
Mr Rusjdi Basalamah, who owns and runs an agency that sends maids overseas, also doubted that the plan would work.
“We now have a moratorium in place on the sending of maids to certain Middle Eastern countries, but many have still gone there illegally and the government could not do anything about it,” he said.