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Riyadh grants more rights to Indonesian workers

Publication Date : 20-02-2014


The governments of Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to provide better working conditions for Indonesian workers in the kingdom.

The bilateral agreement, signed in Riyadh on Wednesday, guaranteed every worker would be given access to cell phones and have one day off a week, leave entitlement, health insurance and be able to keep their passports.

Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said the newly signed MoU guaranteed Indonesian workers would not work 24 hours a day, would have salaries paid via banks, would have online access to a work contract and would be able to contact a 24 hour call center if in need of help or repatriation.

“We want this agreement to improve the protection and welfare of our domestic workers. This is a better system for the placement and protection of the workers,” Muhaimin said on Wednesday.

He said he hoped the move would create decent work for Indonesian domestic workers who were vulnerable to human rights violations.

According to Muhaimin, Saudi Arabia had improved the protection of foreign migrant workers in the oil-rich nation, including those in the domestic sector.

On July 17, 2013, Saudi Arabia’s Ministerial Council approved a regulation on household service labor, while its Cabinet Council approved a regulation on violence in the household and private sector. “We appreciate this effort and we want Saudi Arabia to better protect our workers here,” he said, adding Indonesia had also developed a placement and protection system, such as implementing a computerized system to process worker candidates until they returned home and training candidates for 400 hours in vocational training centers to improve their skills.

In addition, ministry spokesman Suhartono said the MoU would not automatically see Indonesia lift its moratorium on Saudi Arabia.

The lifting of the moratorium on the placement of domestic workers that was imposed in August 2011 would be determined after both governments and all stakeholders had prepared every procedure to protect the workers.

“We’re preparing the system on how we are going to place and protect migrant workers. After that, we will involve stakeholders from both countries to prepare the infrastructure,” Suhartono said.

He said the Indonesian-Saudi Joint Working Committee (JWC) and Joint Task Force (JTF) would meet more often until the new placement and protection system was established.

According to the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) data, there are some 1.2 million Indonesians working in the kingdom, with more than 70 percent of them household workers.

Saudi Arabia executed 54-year -old Ruyati binti Satubi in June 2011 for murdering her employer’s wife. The authorities did so without informing Indonesian officials, forcing Indonesia to impose a moratorium.

Migrant Care said nine migrant workers were on death row awaiting execution in the kingdom, including the case of Satinah.

The Javanese woman was sentenced to death by a Saudi court in 2009 for murdering her employer in 2006. Satinah was said to committed murder in retaliation for the continuous abuse she suffered at the hands of her employer.


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