Monday, 18 June 2012

New recruitment rule for Indonesian domestics to Malaysia exposes workers to more abuses and extortion

Press release

The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants and the Alliance of IMWs to Scrap Law 39/2004 - an alliance of various Indonesian domestic worker's groups in Hong Kong - believe that the new recruitment policy for Indonesian domestic workers in Malaysia that make them replaceable at no cost, shall open up even wider the floodgates for more abuses and exploitation to be committed against domestic workers by employers and unscrupulous recruitment agencies. It treats Indonesian domestic workers as mere commodities that can be easily returned in exchange of a new one.

The new policy that directs recruitment agencies to replace Indonesian domestic workers who ran away from employers or are deemed unfit for work by employers within the first six months of employment with another one for free, took effect last April following a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Malaysia and Indonesia in May last year.

Such a policy does not, in any way, alleviate the dire condition of Indonesian domestic workers in Malaysia that has been characterized by inhuman treatment, widespread violation of rights as workers, gender violence, and slave-like treatment.

It totally negates gains made by Indonesian migrants and advocates in their campaign for better treatment of Indonesian domestic workers in Malaysia leading to the ban on deployment of Indonesian domestic workers in said country.

The lifting of the ban this month could have meant a slight improvement in the working and living condition of Indonesian domestic workers - in terms of wage, day-off, access to grievance mechanisms, and prohibition on forcible confiscation of passports.

However with this new policy, it can result to more abuses from employers for they are ensured of replacement at no additional cost. As well, recruitment agencies can exploit this policy to extort even higher placement fees from Indonesian domestic workers to offset any perceived "loss" in profits.

On top of other recruiter-friendly policies such as the legalized high amount of placement fee and the prohibition on changing of recruitment agencies on the first two years of employment, the new policy will provide a veritable feast of profit from the increasing stream of Indonesians - mostly young women - forced to go abroad due to unemployment, landlessness and poverty in Indonesia.

This practice of paying for two domestic workers - with one as the replacement in line for the other - for the price of one is not new as it has been practiced by recruitment agencies of Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong. As a result, Indonesian migrant workers have been forced to endure more abuses and exploitation for fear of being easily replaced by another one.

We call on to the Malaysian and Indonesian governments to scrap the policy. Instead, the two countries should further work out the details on how positive provisions in the MOU can be effectively implemented to address the immediate issues of Indonesian domestic workers in Malaysia.

16 June 2012

For reference:

Ramon Bultron, APMM Managing Director, (+852 94773141)
Eni Lestari, Alliance of IMWs Convenor, (+852 96081475)

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