International Migrants Day: Finding solutions to the problems of Indonesian migrant workers

Approximately 700,000 documented Indonesian migrant workers go overseas each year to seek better income opportunities in the Middle East, South East Asia and East Asia. Of these documented migrant workers, approximately 80 percent are women working as domestic workers abroad. In total approximately 2,7 million documented Indonesian migrant workers are currently working overseas.

Press release | 17 December 2009

JAKARTA (ILO News): Approximately 700,000 documented Indonesian migrant workers go overseas each year to seek better income opportunities in the Middle East, South East Asia and East Asia. Of these documented migrant workers, approximately 80 percent are women working as domestic workers abroad. In total approximately 2,7 million documented Indonesian migrant workers are currently working overseas.

No verifiable data exists for the number of Indonesian migrant workers who have migrated through irregular channels, but the number is by several studies estimated to supercede the number of documented migrant workers. Even though Indonesian migrant workers are the second largest contributor to Indonesia’s foreign exchange incomes, amounting to about USD 2,4 billion annually, many of these “foreign exchange heroes” experience exploitation and abuse throughout the migration process, both in Indonesia and abroad.

In conjunction with the commemoration of International Migrants Day, the International Labour Organization (ILO) in collaboration with Migrant Care will organize a one-day public dialogue entitled “The Reflection of International Migrants Day 2009” on Thursday, 17 December 2009, in Sari Pan Pacific Hotel, Jakarta.

The event will be officially opened by HE Muhaimin Iskandar, Minister of Manpower and Transmigration, Anis Hidayah, Executive Director of Migrant Care, and Lotte Kejser, Chief Technical Adviser of the ILO’s Migrant Workers Project who is also the Officer-in-Charge of the ILO in Indonesia.

International Migrants Day 2009 marks a collaborative effort by the main national stakeholders and the ILO to promote basic human rights and labour protection of migrant workers. The public dialogue aims to foster greater understanding of the human cost of exploitation of migrant workers, problems faced by Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia as the main destination country and ways in which Indonesia can ensure effective protection of Indonesian migrant workers through a better legal enforcement throughout the migration process, starting from recruitment and training in Indonesia, during job placement abroad, and when returning to Indonesia.

Lotte Kejser, ILO’s Officer-in-Charge, said that labour migration offers prospects of employment for many Indonesians who would have little chance of finding jobs at home and, in turn, helps to relieve unemployment problems in Indonesia. “Indonesian migrant workers contribute a great deal to the Indonesian economy and society and are an increasingly important part of its labour force. The challenge is to find ways of maximising migration’s contribution to growth and development while providing appropriate protections for Indonesian migrant workers.”

The public dialogue will be divided into two sessions. The first session will highlight major problems between Indonesia as the sending country and Malaysia as one of the main destination country for Indonesian migrant workers. This session will present HE Da’i Bachtiar (the Indonesian Ambassador for Malaysia), Y. Bhg Dato’ Ismail Bin Hj Abdul Rahim (Chair of Manpower Empowerment of Malaysia), and Alex Ong (Migrant Care Malaysia). They will further discuss how to move forward in developing a better policy framework and migration placement system between the two countries.

The second session will examine ways to provide better protection to the Indonesian migrant workers through the amendment of Act 39/2004, presenting Nursuhud (Member of Commission IX, DPR RI), Anis Hidayah (Executive Director of Migrant Care Indonesia), Yulian Nur (Chair of Indonesian Insurance Consortium), and Abdullah Syakir (Training and Empowerment Deputy of Indonesian Employment Agency Association). This session will be live broadcast by SmartFM Network, a national radio network, in nine provinces.

Testimonies from Indonesian migrant workers, depicting the exploitation, mistreatment and the hard conditions that they had to face throughout the migration process, will be also presented. These testimonies aim to raise awareness of the need for the Indonesian Government to provide effective protection measures for migrant workers throughout the migration process, in particular in main destination countries like Malaysia.

The commemoration of this International Day will be concluded with a vigilance night, honoring the plight of Indonesian migrant workers and those who become victims of abuse and violence in their efforts to reach their dreams of having a better life. The vigilance night will present the reflection of the overall conditions of migrant workers in Indonesia by the sociologist Imam Prasodjo and Eva Kusuma Sundari.

For further information please contact:

Lotte Kejser
Chief Technical Adviser of the ILO Migrant Workers Project
ILO Jakarta Office
Tel. +6221 3913112 ext. 30
Email

Albert Y. Bonasahat
National Coordinator of the ILO Migrant Workers Project
ILO Jakarta Office
Tel. +6221 3913112 ext. 125
Email

Gita Lingga
Media Relations Officer
ILO Jakarta Office
Tel. +6221 3913112 ext. 115
Mobile: +62 8158845833
Email