Archipelago

Thousands of migrant workers
to be deported

The West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) administration estimates that more than 9,000 migrant workers from Lombok and Sumbawa have been included on the Saudi Arabian government’s deportation list for overstaying their visas.

“The Saudi government recorded 93,000 Indonesian migrant workers with incomplete documents, including those who have overstayed. Of the number, we estimate 10 percent are NTB residents from Lombok and Sumbawa, so it could be more than 9,000 people,” NTB Manpower and Transmigration Office’s manpower expansion and placement division head H. Zaenal said in Mataram on Tuesday.

Those who departed in 2011 would have likely overstayed because a work contract is only for two years on average.

“The estimated 9,000 overstaying migrant workers were just from 2011. The number will increase if many of them departed in 2009 and 2010, or earlier, and did not extend their work permits,” said Zaenal.

Zaenal added that on Nov. 10, 75 migrant workers from Lombok and Sumbawa who were deported from Saudi Arabia arrived at their respective hometowns. Their repatriation was facilitated by the Saudi
government.

“In the first batch, 75 migrant workers were repatriated to NTB. They were immediately returned to their respective hometowns overland from Jakarta using government facilities,” said Zaenal.

Based on data, added Zaenal, the migrant workers in Saudi Arabia blamed their employers for their
expired work permits.

Generally, the women worked as domestic helpers whose employers had discouraged them from returning home. Some of the deported housemaids said they would reapply for immigration documents and return to resume work for their employers.

“As of now, we have yet to receive the exact number of NTB residents included in the group of deportees, but we estimate 10 percent of the total number of Indonesian migrant workers hail from NTB because NTB is the third-largest exporter of migrant workers, after West and East Java,” said Zaenal.

Separately, 183 migrant workers from NTB working in Malaysia were deported and arrived in Mataram on Monday evening. As of this month, more than 2,000 migrant workers from NTB have been deported from Malaysia for working in the country illegally or for being involved in crime.

“All those who were deported worked in the informal sector, such as one oil palm plantations. Some of them had illegally entered or worked in the country, while others were involved in crimes and deported after serving their sentences,” said Zaenal.

He added that the number of migrant workers from NTB deported from Malaysia this year had increased compared to 2012 when 1,122 migrant workers from NTB were deported.

“We continue to inform and urge residents to get immigration and employment documents if they wish to become migrant workers. However, some of them were lured by middlemen who could send them overseas for a cheap fee. But in the end they themselves were disadvantaged,” he said.

The low education level of NTB residents who depart as migrant workers is also deemed a factor in them becoming illegal workers because they do not know the way to resolve employment disputes.

Based on available data, nearly 75 percent of migrant workers from NTB did not finish or graduate from elementary school, some finished junior high school and a small number of them graduated from senior high school.

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