News / Asia

Indonesian Migrant Workers Leave Saudi Arabia

Indonesian workers shout slogans during a protest against the alleged abuse of Sumiati, an Indonesian worker in Saudi Arabia, outside the Parliament, Jakarta, Indonesia, (File).
Indonesian workers shout slogans during a protest against the alleged abuse of Sumiati, an Indonesian worker in Saudi Arabia, outside the Parliament, Jakarta, Indonesia, (File).
Kate Lamb

During the past month, Indonesia has issued special travel documents in lieu of passports to some 4,550 of its citizens in Saudi Arabia who claim they are trying to escape poor labor conditions or abusive employers.  But, with more than two million Indonesian migrant workers still in the country, the government is under increasing pressure formalize their protection with the Gulf nation.

Migrant workers return to Indonesia

Indonesia authorities flew home some 2,500 of the migrant workers on their new travel documents in late September.  The another 2,000 are being housed in a shelter near Jeddah and will return to Indonesia at the end of the month.

Authorities say most of the applicants for the documents are domestic workers who were forced to surrender their passport to their employers as part of their employment agreement. Such measures are common in Saudi Arabia, where domestic workers have few legal protections.

Anis Hidayah is the executive director of Migrant Care, a group in Jakarta that works to protect migrant workers. She wants a formal agreement between the two countries protecting the basic human rights of the migrant workers.

“In Saudi Arabia there are no national regulations about domestic workers, but Saudi is the biggest country that where there are so many domestic workers. So how to bridge the situation is we push for Indonesia and other sending countries to negotiate with Saudi Arabia to make bilateral regulations to protect domestic workers there. Without a  bilateral agreement I think the protection is very low for domestic workers,” Hidayah stated.

Hidayah says the agreement should focus on setting minimum wages, days off and allow migrant workers to retain their passports.

Saudi's ill treatment of domestic workers

The treatment of workers in Saudi Arabia has been a heated political topic in Indonesia since June, when Saudi authorities executed 54-year-old maid Ruyati binti Sapubi.

The Indonesian woman was beheaded for killing her employer, an action she said was motivated by self-defense, harsh working conditions and constant verbal abuse.

Saudi officials later apologized for failing to inform Indonesian authorities before the execution, Jakarta responded by barring migrants workers from going to the country. The ban since August 1st continues, but the more than two million Indonesians working in the country still have few legal protections.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Michael Tene says both sides have an interest in resolving the dispute and the government is working closely with the Saudi government to negotiate better conditions.                     

“We have imposed a moratorium of sending new workers and this moratorium will only be lifted once we are satisfied that the necessary instrument, necessary arrangements, to protect our workers in Saudi is in place and that is a process that is going on between our government and the Saudi government…There is no such time limits," Tene said. "Of course if those negotiations can be finalized in the early stage that would be better.”

Worldwide, Indonesian migrant workers send back more than $7 billion each year, money that supporters say is one of the country’s most effective forms of poverty alleviation.

With 2.5 million Indonesian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, critics say the government is more interested in the amount of remittances the workers send home to their families and contribute to the local economy.

Although Tene says the government is negotiating the release of the 43 Indonesian maids on death row, he also adds that many Indonesian workers do not have severe problems with their employers in the Saudi kingdom.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid