The Jakarta Post
Workers’ rights NGO Migrant Care says Indonesian workers are still facing restrictions in expressing their opposition to the vulnerability and oppression they face in their workplaces.
The NGO said in a statement issued to mark International Labor Day, or May Day, which is celebrated across the world every May 1, that Indonesian workers cannot enjoy freedom to celebrate May Day despite the government making it a public holiday for the past two years.
“Through statements conveyed by its officials, the Indonesian government has tended to narrow the celebration of the International Labor Day into merely a ceremonial event. In fact, May Day must be celebrated as a declaration on the political stance of workers over the conditions they face,” Migrant Care said in a statement on Sunday.
It further said the government’s acknowledgement of International Labor Day was not automatically accompanied by the fulfillment of the rights of Indonesian workers either at home or abroad.
Up till now, Migrant Care said, the government continued to produce policies, which were against labor rights, such as unfair wages, restrictions on labor union activity and union busting.
Although it had ratified the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families since 2012, the NGO further said the government had not yet changed the paradigm of its worker migration management policy, which was exploitative.
Until today, the group said, the government had continued to produce discriminative policies on the placement of Indonesian migrant workers, especially female workers who worked as migrant domestic helpers. The government also allowed private parties to monopolize the recruitment and placement of migrant workers, which led to the neglect of their rights and had the potential for the criminalization of migrant workers.
“Indonesia’s bureaucratic culture, which operates a corrupt worker migration management, has also contributed to the high cost of migration, which could lead to human trafficking,” said Migrant Care.
The government’s neglect of the rights of the country’s migrant workers could be seen in the Manpower Ministry’s reluctance to maximize the state’s protection role in the process of replacing Law No.39/2004 on the placement and protection of migrant Indonesian workers abroad with a draft law on the protection of Indonesian workers abroad (PPILN).
Migrant Care said it seemed the Manpower Ministry was very conservative in responding to the PPIPLN bill.
“It can be seen from their rejection of the inclusion of non-discriminatory principles and the rights of migrant workers, which are stipulated in the Migrant Worker Convention [which has been ratified through the issuance of Law No.6/2012],” the group said.
It further said the government’s discriminative attitude could also be seen in its insistence on implementing the Zero Migrant Worker road map, which was gender biased, discriminatory, and violated human rights and the Constitution. The road map showed the government’s reluctance to bear its responsibility for protecting its citizens, especially women, who wanted to work abroad as migrant domestic helpers.
“If the Indonesian government’s conservatism on migrant worker protection initiatives continues, and at the same time the country’s worker migration management is still conducted as business as usual, the vulnerability and oppression of Indonesian migrant workers will remain and even get worse,” said Migrant Care. (ebf)