Migrant workers have become one source of foreign exchange. The World Bank estimates that remittances of these workers will bring at least 7.1 billions U.S. dollars in 2010 and up to 6.7 U.S. Dollars in 2009. However, what they get from the state, we have seen among them return home with suffer and Sumiati binti Mustapa Salan in one of example.
Sumiati is one case among many cases of Indonesian migrant workers, who experience miserable fortune, this problem will not happen if only the government give them long term protection for their fate, this including measurable legal protection while they work abroad.
Unfortunately, the elite of this country giving much more attention to the suffering of migrant workers who were received extensive attention by the media, where it covers the maximum effort done by the government to solve this case restlessly, but it looks like this moment were the right opportunity for the government to polish their good image in front of the masses without making substantial decisive breakthrough for the sake of protecting our migrant workers.
If only the Minister of Manpower and Transmigration (Kemennakertrans) together with the National Agency for Placement and Protection of Indonesian Workers (BNP2TKI) both are seriously performing their functions, the 23-years-old woman from Dompu, West Nusa Tenggara will not suffer.
A beautiful woman who-due to family poverty-forced to wander as house maid in Saudi Arabia, now live the rest of her life with physical and mental torture. The wife of her employer used to persecute Sumiati beyond the boundary of humanity by cutting out her lips, ironing her and beat her.
Sumiati was worked for Khaled al-Salem M Khamili in Madina, Saudi Arabia through PT Rajana Falam Princess, Jakarta, on July 18, 2010. Allegedly, she became a victim of persecution since the bergining of her works as house maid in this family.
It might me that the family employer was disappointed because they get incapable person unable to speak neither Arabic nor English, as they already pay a lot of premium to the agent of migrant workers, and such condition also happened in Malaysia.
But investigating abuse workers in Saudi Arabia is not an easy matter as well. Because, as Chairman of the National Commission for Women, Yuniyanti Chuzaifah, said social system and working environment in Saudi Arabia to protect migrant workers has not formed properly. Yuniyanti who completed the third bachelor in Division of Anthropology of Gender and Migration in the Amsterdam University was admitted enough to know the disposition employer of Saudi Arabia. She has conducted research in three years there with a sample of employers, ambassadors, lawyers, journalists, scholars, ordinary people, translators, including male migrant workers. The result of the research conducted in 2006 concluded that the claim was very difficult to protect migrant workers diplomatically. “It is not easy because the people closed with anyone so the police also difficult to revealed it,” she added.
The only way for cases like this do not happen constantly, Yuniyanti said the government immediately ratify the international convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families. According to her, the ratification of this convention is important in order to provide full protection to all migrant workers who work as migrant workers abroad.
At least six million migrant workers in foreign countries, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia are the main destination country of Indonesian migrant workers. Malaysia holds 2.2 million workers and Saudi Arabia reached 1 million migrant workers, most of who work as domestic servants and other informal sectors.
Almost all issues in migrant workers originated from domestic problems, which are until now the government is failed to construct recruitment system, documentation and qualified workers. Almost all the due process raging from the placement and procedural process were handed offer to the private agency (PPTKIS) Private Executive Placement of Indonesian Workers. The problem of poverty all behind thousands of unskilled labor forces, even some of them don’t have any background of formal education at all were sign up to become overseas workers.
It is obviously, due to limited information and the active role of government especially in the rural area, this put the sponsorship as their expected helper and these sponsors, who seems as PPTKIS arm wandering looking for anyone interested in working overseas with promises of lucrative salaries. These sponsors take those candidates of migrant workers to PPTKIS shelters and leave them as they got amount of salaries for this job.
Up here, the PPTPKIS must equipt these candidates with training and competency with a minimum of 200 hours and for those who already worked overseas with 100 hours. Training and competency course is in fact aimed at improving the competency of these workers, including language, social, norms and legal law in the destination country.
The case of Sumiati, we know this process is not running well. Sumiati could not speak Arabic and English. Communication factor make her unable to understand the employer’s request of instructions. And ultimately, she became a victim of greedy company and inability of bureaucrats to perform their task.
Now, one big question mark rose, that how could Sumiati still be able to go to Madinah with the official procedures while she did not meet the basic requirement for migrant worker competency?
In this case, certainty we could not blame Sumiati, she just wants to work and get out of poverty, she might be attracted to the success of friends and relatives who successfully gain overseas sustenance as a migrant worker.
Less than a month Muhaimin Iskandar became the Minister of Manpower and Transmigration, he launched a certification program competencies for 15.000 candidates of migrant workers to Middle East destination with the collaboration of association of migrant workers Service Company.
The minister also raided number incompetent shelters for migrant workers candidates and confirm that he will revoke the original certificate permission of PPTKIS consumers, which is look ‘original’ but ‘faked’ certificate. It called original but faked, because PPTKIS get this official certificate without including the prospective workers in the training programs. These certificates were sales at Rp 70.000 (USD $ 8) per page, whereas legal official certificate that include the prospective workers in the training program were worth of Rp.1.1 million (about USD $110) per person.
The Chairman of the Employers Association of Indonesian Manpower Placement Service Yunus M Yamai and the Secretary Genera of the Association of Indonesian Manpower Placement Service Rusjdi Basalamah once question this illegal practice. However, the government does not giving much attention and this illegal practice become much more widespread, this leads those serious entrepreneurs who run their business legally were tempted to do the same, as they lost their competitiveness.
Thus the failures of government to fix the domestic problem further undermine the government confidence to solve this problem through bilateral means.
Currenty, Indonesia paused the placement of migrant workers for informal sectors to Malaysia since June 26, 2009, Kuwait (1 September 2009) and Jordania (30 July 2010). This moratorium started with the reluctance of the three countries to meet the demand of Indonesia. Therefore, the ability of the President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his aides in negotiations, lobbying and diplomacy is crucial success of the moratorium. Otherwise, just like now, Indonesian migrant workers policy will continue to fluctuate according to the demand of country destination and the case of Indonesian migrant workers has been tortured is no more than a mere statistics.
please do repost in your blog if you really care about the fate of million Indonesian migrant workers..