IMWs to Pres. Jokowi:
Legal Protection for IMWs, Stop Overcharging
It is with fervent hope that we wish President Joko Widodo, in his historical visit to Hong Kong, to not prioritize investment and business cooperation over the rights of Indonesian migrant workers (IMWs).
1.Set legal protection for IMWs as workers.
Under Indonesian law, IMWs are not considered as workers. Therefore IMWs are deployed abroad without legal protection and guaranty to their basic rights. For years, the Indonesian government has relegated its task to private agencies and forced IMWs to accept abusive and exploitative arrangements that had led to numerous cases of violence, abuse and even death. Violations such as overcharging, underpayment, falsification and confiscation of travel documents, confinement, verbal, physical and even sexual abuses are rampant. Yet, the Indonesian government does not provide legal mechanism for IMWs to file cases against erring recruitment agencies and claim compensation for damages they have suffered.
2.Stop overcharging and compensate the victims.
The Indonesian government has allowed recruitment agencies to charge IMWs with very high fees in processing the contract. Under the Ministerial Decree, new IMWs are supposed to pay IDR14,800,000 (HK$8,627), but the fees reportedly collected range from HK$15,000 to HK$30,000 deducted from 6-8 months of salary. To add more burden, the government does not allow IMWs to change to a different agency before the completion of 2-year contract.
While those already in Hong Kong are supposed to pay 10% of agency fee, but in reality many pay between HK$1,500 to HK$15,000. Likewise, the Indonesian Consulate openly rejects assisting migrant workers who complain of paying much higher than what is legally allowed.
3.Stop confiscation of IMW’s travel documents and prosecute the agency.
Many Hong Kong-based agencies confiscate IMWs’ travel documents as guarantee to force IMWs to pay the high recruitment fees and not escape when they are abused in the employer’s houses. Though regular reports had been submitted to Indonesian Consulate and Hong Kong police, no significant move to combat this human right violation has been done by either government agency.
4.Improve working condition and ensure safety of IMWs in Hong Kong.
Due to the live-in and two-week visa policies, IMWs suffer 12-18 long working hours, inadequate foods, improper accommodation, made to clean window exteriors and use chemical in the employer’s houses. Yet the wage remains very low. As a result, IMWs suffer various health deterioration and 20 have reportedly died last year.
In his electoral campaign, President Jokowi promised he would reform the law that prioritizes the rights of IMWs. Sadly, in his two years, he has not delivered it yet.
The moratorium and so-called zero domestic workers policy has yet another failure in addressing the issues of safety and protection of IMWs. As its consequence, cases of illegal recruitment and human trafficking increase.
President Jokowi must now take urgently and seriously the demand by recognizing IMWs as workers and to make direct hiring an option instead of forcing IMWs – whether new or continuing migrants – to go through recruitment agencies. He must criminalize overcharging and prosecute erring recruitment agencies.
We hope eradicating high agency fees, ensuring safety and security and IMWs rights will be Jokowi’s major agendas in his meeting with In his meeting with Chief Executive.
We hope the meeting and greeting with IMWs community in Hong Kong on April 30 will not be another show without commitment to realize our long standing demands.