Fri, 19 Mar 1999

Minimum wages set for Mideast domestics

JAKARTA (JP): The Ministry of Manpower announced on Wednesday minimum wages for Indonesian workers employed as domestic helpers abroad.

The regulation, which follows an agreement between the Association of Indonesian Labor Exporters and its foreign partners, took effect on March 1.

The monthly minimum wages were set at 600 real (Rp 1,350,000) in Saudi Arabia, 600 dirham (Rp 1,350,000) in the United Arab Emirates, 50 dirham (Rp 1,326,000) in Kuwait, 60 dirham (Rp 1,541,000) in Bahrain, 600 real (Rp 1,350,000) in Qatar and 60 dirham (1,392,000) in Oman.

In Hong Kong and Singapore the minimum salaries were set at HK$$3,670 (Rp 3.3 million) and S$230 (Rp 1.1 million) respectively.

Director General for Labor Placement Din Syamsudin said the regulation was aimed at improving the welfare of Indonesian workers overseas and curbing the rampant exploitation of workers.

"Women workers employed as domestic helpers abroad should not sign labor contracts with their employers if they are paid less than the minimum salary set by the government," Din said in a press conference at the manpower ministry.

Din said that each worker sent to the Middle East was subject to a Rp 400,000 recruitment fee.

He said the government proposed a minimum monthly salary for Indonesian workers in Hong Kong based on local standard. He specifically called on China's special territory to take strict measures against errant employers.

Din said 90 percent of some 3,200 Indonesian workers employed as domestic helpers in Hong Kong were paid between HK$2,000 and $3,000 per month, lower than the official minimum wage.

The government also charges Hong Kong-based workers a $18,000 recruitment fee, which the workers are allowed to pay in installments over a 10-month period.

Singapore-bound workers are also charged a placement fee usually equal to three-months salary.

Din also said four labor export companies were temporarily barred from sending workers abroad and another 17 companies were reprimanded for various administrative violations.

PT Nur Afalah, PT Intra Caraka, PT Menara Terasbahari and PT Tifar Admanco were barred from exporting workers from January to March for falsifying workers' identities, he said.

Din said the companies warned included PT Nurbhakti Langgeng, PT Sapta Saguna and PT Bhayangkara. (rms)