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Indonesia warns Hong Kong on migrant workers
Publication Date : 06-09-2012
Indonesia sais that it could impose a moratorium on sending workers to Hong Kong if China's special administrative region continued to neglect the basic rights of migrant workers in the country.
The director general for overseas labour placement and protection at the Indonesia's Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, Reyna Usman, explained that the government would decide on the moratorium if the authority in Hong Kong, labour agencies and employers failed to honour Government Regulation No. 98/2012 on the labour recruitment fee cut.
"We are waiting for Hong Kong's response to our new policy. If the response is negative, the government will have no choice but to suspend the sending of migrant workers to Hong Kong and Macau," she told The Jakarta Post.
The ministerial decree stipulates that a migrant worker should only pay HK$13,436 (US$1,732), instead of the current HK$24,000, before they are allowed to work in Hong Kong.
"The exorbitant fee allows workers to only receive a little from their monthly salary as they have to pay around $3,400 every month to return the recruitment fees to labour agencies for up to 10 months," she said.
Usman said that she had already held talks with Hong Kong labour authority representatives and warned them about the moratorium.
The ministerial decree imposes the recruitment fee evenly on workers and their employers. The decree stipulates that workers pay $13,436 for insurance, medical and psychological tests, passports, 110-day training and payment for Indonesian sponsors. The employer, meanwhile, pays $11,179 (to workers from Java) and $13,906 (to those from outside Java) for labour contract documents, a two-year insurance premium, medical test, working visas, plane ticket, airport tax and fees for labour agencies.
The decree was issued shortly after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited Hong Kong in March this year where he was greeted by protests from Indonesian migrant workers who complained about the exorbitant recruitment fee.
The government had earlier suspended sending workers to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan because of rampant labour abuse in Middle Eastern countries.
It recently lifted the moratorium of labour exports to Malaysia but no workers have been sent because the situation remains volatile for Indonesian workers.
Hong Kong has more than 160,000 migrant workers from Indonesia and was, until recently, named as one of the best destinations for Indonesian migrant workers to ply their trade because of its stable economic growth and labour-friendly regulations.
Usman also said the ministry is preparing a list of Hong Kong labour agents that continued to ignore the ministerial decree.
"The Hong Kong agencies have been to told to register with the labour attach? at Indonesia's Consulate General in the territory while unscrupulous labour agencies in Indonesia will have their licences revoked," she said.
Labour agencies in the country applauded the ministerial decree but wanted the government to closely watch its implementation.
US$1= 9,570 Indonesian rupiah
US$1 = 7.75 Hong Kong dollar