18 May, 2010

Ending freeze on Indonesian maids ?

The long-standing issue of sending Indonesian maids to Malaysia is nearing settlement with the signing by both countries of a letter of intent on the terms of their employment, which include a day off a week.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, who had a four-eye meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono here today, said both sides were still negotiating the minimum wage issue.

"Only one letter of intent was signed relating to manpower...among others, it requires Malaysian employers to give their Indonesian workers a day off a week.

"However, if both sides agree, and the worker does not want to take the day off, he or she will be paid, commensurate with the salary," he told a media conference after the 90-minute meeting at his office here.

The letter of intent also stipulates that the worker should retain his or her passport unless both parties agree that it be kept by the employer.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is expected to follow in two months to enable the sending of Indonesian maids, which was stopped in June last year, to resume.

Meanwhile, Jalarta Globe reported that Indonesian government’s bans on sending migrant workers to Malaysia will remain in force after both countries failed to agree on a minimum wage.

Speaking after bilateral talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono today, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters in Putrajaya, that the two leaders agreed in principle for Indonesian maids to be granted one day off a week, but did not conclude a minimum wage.

Last June, migrant workers were banned from travelling to Malaysia following reports that some workers were being abused and were not being paid. Three months later, a similar ban was applied on migrant workers traveling to Kuwait following similar reports. Most Indonesian migrant workers are maids, construction workers and plantation workers.

There are currently 4.3 million Indonesians working in 42 countries, according to the National Board for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Overseas Workers (BNP2TKI).

That figure, however, does not include an estimated 2-4 million Indonesians working abroad illegally.

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