JAKARTA: The integration of a placement system for Indonesian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia will help lift a ban by Jakarta, improve protection of the group, and boost bilateral relations, officials from the Southeast Asian country have said.
Indonesian and Saudi officials have been working on establishing an integrated placement system between the two countries and renewed a technical arrangement agreement last month to speed up this process.
Jakarta had placed a permanent ban on sending new domestic helpers to the Middle East in 2015 following a temporary suspension, although hundreds of workers still left for jobs in the wealthier region in the years since.
Eko Hartono, Indonesia’s consul general in Jeddah, told Arab News that the one-channel system would help to lift the moratorium while also boosting relations between the archipelago nation and the Kingdom.
“This will definitely elevate relations, especially labor relations,” Hartono said. “The system integration is important because it will guarantee the fulfillment of the rights of Indonesian migrant workers working in Saudi Arabia. Once the system integration is complete and done, it can pave the way to lift the moratorium.”
Suhartono, a director general at Indonesia’s Manpower Ministry, told Arab News that officials were expecting the integration process to conclude before the end of this year.
“We estimate (it will be ready) by November 2022 at the latest,” Suhartono said. “The system is one of the instruments for both governments to monitor and evaluate, while also controlling recruitment, placement, and protection of Indonesian migrant workers to Saudi Arabia.”
Indonesia is also hoping to increase the placement of Indonesian migrant workers in the formal sector, Suhartono added, while also improving relations in other aspects of labor such as training, mutual recognition arrangements, and joint labor inspection.
Jakarta-based advocacy group Migrant Care said the Indonesian government should ensure a thorough evaluation of existing arrangements between Jakarta and Riyadh. It also called for a renewal of bilateral agreements related to migrant workers.
“The moratorium has been in place for quite some time,” Migrant Care director Anis Hidayah told Arab News.
“We have new laws, Saudi also has new regulations and new political context, which will serve as context between our two countries and affect what we want to push for. The most important thing is to have a thorough evaluation.”