The Jakarta Post
Former migrant workers from Lombok and Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) want the country's next leaders, elected in the July 9 presidential election, to be concerned with the fate and prosperity of migrant workers and their families.
'There have been so many injustices, including torture and sexual abuse. We hope that our new leaders will be concerned with workers abroad and can guarantee better working conditions,' Ibrahim, 45, a former migrant worker from Central Lombok, told The Jakarta Post.
Ibrahim worked as a driver for a family in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for 7 years. He claims to have seen many cases involving the abuse of Indonesian workers, particularly female domestic workers. He cited long working hours, low salaries, unpaid wages, unsafe work and living conditions as well as exploitation to be among the abuses.
'Those cases of violence against Indonesian workers in Saudi Arabia are just the tip of iceberg. Most of are covered up,' said Ibrahim.
According to official data from the province's Worker Protection and Recruitment Agency (BP3TKI), NTB sends between 35,000 and 50,000 migrant workers abroad, 80 percent go to Malaysia and the rest to the Middle East and other Asian countries.
Workers send around Rp 1.1 trillion (US$93.5 million) back home every year, almost a half of the province's annual budget (APBD).
'They are not only 'heroes of foreign exchange', they should be seen as state assets that need to be protected,' said Indonesian Migrant Workers Advocacy (ADBMI) coordinator Roma Hidayat.
'We hope that our next president has a firm vision on migrant workers' protection.' (fss/ebf)
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