Indonesia wants MoU before lifting ban on sending workers to Kuwait

January 6, 2010
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Indonesia is likely to lift a ban it slapped last September on sending workers to Kuwait, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would help improve migrant workers’ conditions. “The initial reason for the MoU was to request that the Kuwaiti government provide more protection for our workers in Kuwait. The ban [on workers coming to Kuwait] will be lifted if we agree on the content of the MoU,” Aris Triyano, the first secretary and spokesman for the Indonesian ambassador in Kuwait, was quoted as saying by Kuwait Times on Wednesday. The memorandum is expected to include the introduction of a mandatory monthly minimum wage and a weekly day’s holiday for Indonesian workers and will put an end to employers retaining the workers’ passports. A preliminary meeting was held in Kuwait last year between Kuwaiti and Indonesian officials on workers’ rights, but the final agreement has not been released yet, Triyano said. “I can only confirm our preliminary meetings with the Kuwaiti side last year; as far as I know, we invited them [Kuwaiti officials] to visit Jakarta, and they haven’t responded yet to our invitation. So I assume the MoU has not been completed yet. But I think, given the readiness of two countries to enter into agreement, it could happen soon,” he said. Indonesian reports quoted Iskandar Maula, the director of the Indonesian Ministry of Overseas Workers, as saying that Kuwait needed more time to study the proposals contained in the MoU. The official, however, stressed that the agreement was necessary. Many Indonesian workers in Kuwait have complained that they could not leave the country after facing problems mainly because of the lack of cooperation from their sponsors, he said. Citing increasing numbers of problems confronting Indonesian domestic staff in Kuwait, Jakarta last September banned the employment of its nationals in the northern Gulf state. “The Ministry of Labour in Jakarta implemented the order in mid-September. We currently have around 600 runaway housemaids at our embassy. They have issues that need to be resolved, and although the government of Kuwait has been very helpful, until their concerns are resolved we have to temporarily suspend deployment,” Faisal Esmail, Indonesian Ambassador to Kuwait and Bahrain, said in October. According to Triyano, the number of domestic helpers running away from their employers had increased following the announcement last month that expatriate workers hired by bogus companies could either regularise their status or leave the country without being penalised. The run-away Indonesians misunderstood the type of amnesty and, thinking it included them, fled to their embassy and to its shelter in Khaifan in the hope of escaping from their sponsors, he said. Around 80,000 Indonesian nationals are thought to live in Kuwait, of whom around 60,000 are employed as domestic helpers.

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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