Opening Remarks at the Binational Workshop on the Recruitment and Protection of Migrant Domestic Workers in the Indonesia-Malaysia Corridor

By Francesco d'Ovidio, ILO Country Director for Indonesia and Timor-Leste at the Binational Workshop on the Recruitment and Protection of Migrant Domestic Workers in the Indonesia-Malaysia Corridor, 3 November

Statement | Jakarta, Indonesia | 03 November 2015
  • Director General of Employment Placement and Expansion, Ministry of Manpower Indonesia, Mr. Hery Sudarmanto
  • Director of Labour Standard Division, Department of Labour, Ministry of Human Resource Malaysia, Mr. Wan Zulkfli bin Wan Setapa
  • Vice Ambassador of Republic Indonesia for Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, Mr. Hermono
  • Labour Attache of Embassy of Malaysia in Jakarta, Mr. Harris Gani
  • Senior officials of Ministries and Governments of Indonesia and Malaysia,
  • Representatives of Employers Organizations and Trade Unions of ASEAN, Indonesia and Malaysia, and representative of Philippines Overseas Employment Administration
  • Representatives of IOM Indonesia, and NGOs & stakeholders
  • ILO colleagues from Geneva, Bangkok and Jakarta
  • Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning, Selamat Pagi

We are here today to discuss the situation of migrant domestic workers (MDWs) in the Indonesia-Malaysia corridor, with a view to improve their protection, and ensure more effective and protective recruitment mechanisms.

Indonesian domestic workers represent a large share of migrant domestic workers in Malaysia. Domestic workers care for the families and most prized possessions of their employers; Indonesian MDWs therefore provide an essential service to Malaysian households and their welfare.

The income earned by these workers also makes a substantial contribution to the families of domestic workers and to the Indonesian economy. Indeed, migration can represent a significant contribution to development in both countries, when the labour, migration, and recruitment conditions are right.

Through a joint task force, the two countries have taken measures over the past years to regulate the recruitment and placement of MDWs. The revision and reinstatement of the Memorandum of Understanding is a testament to the commitment of both countries to continue to improve the recruitment and protection and MDWs in the corridor.

The ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration includes measures for issues on labour migration and trafficking, in the context of abusive working conditions.

In 2011, the ILO adopted Convention No. 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, along with its accompanying Recommendation No. 201. The Convention has generated interest and attention from stakeholders around the world. Since its adoption, 22 countries have ratified the Convention, and some other 20 Member States have undertaken law and policy reform to improve the protection of domestic workers.

MDWs are particularly vulnerable to abuse being that they often speak a different language, are unfamiliar with the local law and customs, and are far from any social network that would otherwise serve to support them. Both Indonesia and Malaysia constituents have shown interest in addressing some of the remaining challenges to protecting MDWs throughout the recruitment cycle.

For 11 years, the ILO Jakarta, along with our government, tripartite constituents and non-government counterpart, has worked to combat discrimination and exploitation of Indonesian migrant workers both in Indonesian and in destination countries, with a specific focus on domestic workers.

The ILO Regional Asia-Pacific, through the ASEAN TRIANGLE project, supports the ASEAN process and ASEAN countries on addressing issues of vulnerable migrant workers, including domestic workers. Through the ILO Global Action Programme on Migrant Domestic Workers and their Families (GAP-MDW), constituents in both Indonesia and Malaysia have chosen to take further steps. This EU-funded project sought to support constituents in this endeavor, by fostering evidence-based policy dialogue, as well as capacity building on extending labour protections to domestic workers, developing more effective and protective recruitment processes, and eliminating forced labour and trafficking.

Today, the ILO has the great pleasure of bringing together the constituents and key stakeholders from Indonesia and Malaysia to review the results of research that has been conducted under GAP-MDW on the actual conditions of recruitment and employment of migrant domestic workers.

In the spirit of the ILO, the project sought to accurately represent the views of workers and employers. To this end, the research documented, on the one hand, the needs, preferences, practices and beliefs of Malaysian employers, and on the other hand, the working and recruitment conditions of Indonesian migrant domestic workers.

The views of government, trade unions, and employers’ associations were sought in the development and analysis of these results through national level workshops. The views of private recruitment agency associations and selected NGOs was also taken into consideration.

In this two-day workshop we will share you the final analysis of the research and stakeholder views to provide you a full picture of the situation in the Indonesia-Malaysia corridor. We hope that the presentation of this information will foster healthy dialogue and promising, actionable recommendations.

On behalf of the ILO, I would like to thank you all for your participation in this important event, and wish you a productive workshop.