The Indonesian government says it has no plans to add to the list of five countries where Indonesian migrant workers are banned from seeking employment.
The government does not allow Indonesian migrants to travel to these locations in order to shield them from the absence of legal protections in these countries.
In contrast, the Philippine government announced on Wednesday that it would stop sending its workers to 41 countries that are not compliant with the standards, conditions and requirements as embodied in employment contracts prescribed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
“We have [temporarily] stopped sending Indonesian migrant workers [working as maids] to Malaysia since 2009, Kuwait since 2009, Jordan since 2010, Saudi Arabia since 2011 and Syria since 2011,” Manpower and Transmigration Ministry’s spokesman Suhartono told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
“We are evaluating our moratorium policy [on labor exports] to those countries, but we have no plans to add more countries to the list.”
However, one of those countries will be removed from the list on Dec. 1 when the government will once again allow Indonesian maids to travel to work in Malaysia. This will follow an evaluation of placement, protection and document arrangements on Nov. 18, according to Suhartono.
“We’ll also ask for professional recruitment agencies [in Malaysia] that can be held responsible for the protection of our migrant workers,” he said.
On its official website, the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment announced on Wednesday that it is banning the sending of Filipino workers to 41 non-compliant countries, including Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Croatia, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Timor Leste, Serbia, Haiti, Cuba, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Zimbabwe.
In those countries, Philippine nationals work in the fields of oil and gas, construction, hotels, restaurants, telecommunications and engineering, among others, the announcement said.
Migrant CARE executive director Anis Hidayah applauded the Philippine government’s latest policy and urged the Indonesian government to follow suit and not wait for public pressure.
She also said the Philippine government was taking the lead in better protecting its migrant workers in the formal sector because it already had better protection for its maids, unlike Indonesia.
“It is amazing for the Philippine government to do that. Indonesia should collaborate with the Philippines to show [host countries, especially] Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, that we care and have a bargaining position,” she told the Post from New York City.
In response to the government’s decision to resume the sending of Indonesian migrant workers to Malaysia, she said it was too early.
Echoing Anis, an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker, Rieke Dyah Pitaloka, said Indonesia should have greater control than host countries in sending its migrant workers overseas.