Fri, 24 Nov 2000

House urged to help reform labor export procedure

JAKARTA (JP): The Association of Labor Supplying Companies (Apjati) urged the House of Representatives to press the government to reform the labor export procedure which it described as ineffective and unfair.

"Apjati needs political support from the House to force a reform of the labor export procedure if we are determined to develop this sector and solve the unemployment problem," Husein A. Alaydrus, Apjati chairman told a hearing with the House Commission VII for labor and social welfare here on Wednesday.

He said it was not fair at all to blame labor exporters for the troubles plaguing Indonesian workers overseas while the government has never anticipated the sorts of incidents that migrant workers may experience.

"Many Indonesian migrant workers have troubles with their employers due to their lack of skills, a serious problem that should be blamed on the government rather than labor exporters," he said.

Citing the Constitution, he said the government was obliged to provide education and vocational training for job seekers.

The latest data shows that almost half of around 4 million Indonesian workers overseas are elementary school graduates and dropouts from remote areas.

Husein further criticized the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration for issuing controversial regulations on labor exports.

"The replacement of ministers and other high ranking officials at the ministry has brought changes in regulations concerning labor contracts, legal protection for workers and their transportation to and from their home villages," he said.

He wondered why over the last decade three companies and a consortium had been appointed to run insurance programs for workers and why a lot of transportation companies had been named to take workers home upon arrival at airports.

He also questioned a ruling which obliges a migrant worker to pay US$20 to the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration and another $11 in protection fees to Indonesian embassies in the countries where they are employed. Husein said so far the funds collected from the levies had never been used to handle troubled workers.

He said the manpower ministry should strengthen its coordination with the foreign ministry, the home affairs and regional autonomy ministry, the Immigration Office and the National Police to help job seekers who wish to work overseas, instead of extorting them. (rms)