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 Govt flies home over 1,900 workers from Saudi Arabia

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BerichtOnderwerp: Govt flies home over 1,900 workers from Saudi Arabia   Govt flies home over 1,900 workers from Saudi Arabia Icon_minitimema 22 okt 2012 - 18:15

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta Mon, October 22 2012

The government is flying home hundreds of troubled Indonesian workers from Saudi Arabia by national flag carrier Garuda, which is transporting haj pilgrims to the Holy Land.

As many as 333 workers arrived at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, on Saturday and they were welcomed by Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al Jufri. They were among the 1,943 workers to be brought home.

Religious Affairs Ministry spokesman Zubaidi said the repatriation of the troubled workers was made possible following an agreement between the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and state-owned national flag carrier PT Garuda Indonesia.

“The ministries and the national flag carrier agreed to repatriate the workers by using Garuda airplanes for free because the [planes] transporting pilgrims to the Holy Land fly back home without any passengers,” Zubaidi said over the weekend.

According to him, Garuda has agreed to bring home the workers but their airport taxes and meals are being paid for by the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry.

Reyna Usman, director general for overseas labor placement and protection at the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, said her side would also cover the migrant workers’ transportation from Jakarta to their home villages throughout the country. She added that the migrant workers were mostly women and from towns in Java and West Nusa Tenggara.

According to Reyna, most of the workers had fled their workplaces because they were not treated well by their employers. They had reported their situation to the Indonesian embassy. “Most fled [their workplaces] because they were not paid well, not treated humanely or had overstayed,” she said, adding that many workers had being living beneath underpasses in Jeddah after they had escaped their employers’ homes.

The government suspended sending workers to Saudi Arabia in Aug. 1, 2011, following the increasing number of Indonesian workers being abused by their employers. The carrying out of death sentences on several workers over the past few years also prompted the suspension.

The Indonesian and Saudi governments are still negotiating a bilateral agreement on this labor issue to help provide protection for migrant workers in that country.

Chairman of the Indonesian Labor Supplying Companies’ Association, Rusjdi Basalamah, appreciated the good coordination between the ministries and Garuda in flying home the workers and called on the government to look into the causes of their plights.

According to him, the workers concerned had not been sent by official labor-supplying companies and most had fled their workplaces because they had no skills. Some others had overstayed after performing the minor haj long before the pilgrimage season.

Minister of Manpower and Transmigration Muhaimin Iskandar said that his ministry had also coordinated with the Ministry of Religious Affairs to closely monitor the pilgrimage to prevent pilgrims from misusing their pilgrimages to seek jobs or do business in Saudi Arabia.

“We have asked the ministry and all travel agencies involved in the pilgrimage to have all pilgrims return home in accordance with the schedule,” he said.

The minister said the government had decided to gradually reduce the sending of informal workers —
domestic helpers and gardeners — as their jobs were prone to abuse and, instead, would send only qualified workers to be employed on construction and mining sites with better conditions.

Meanwhile, the abused Indonesian maid Nirmala Bonat has filed a lawsuit with a Malaysian court in an attempt to seek compensation from her former employer who assaulted her in 2004.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Michael Tene confirmed on Sunday the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur had provided Nirmala with legal assistance in the suit.

“The legal team helping Nirmala in the lawsuit is the same legal team we hired to provide legal counsel during the trial process against her former employer,” Michael told The Jakarta Post.

Nirmala is asking for RM39,161 (US$12,837) in damages, comprising RM28,545 for loss of income and RM10,616 for other damages, according to The Star, the Post’s fellow Asia News Network (ANN) member.

The 28-year-old native of East Nusa Tenggara is seeking damages for loss of comfort, medical expenses, humiliation, physical and mental anguish, permanent scars and transportation costs.

On Oct. 1, Nirmala’s former employer, 44-year-old housewife Yim Pek Ha, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after a prolonged trial.

Malaysia’s Court of Appeals upheld the High Court’s conviction of Yim on three counts of inflicting injuries and her 12-year prison sentence.

In 2009, the High Court reduced Yim’s sentence from 18 years to 12 years following her appeal.

Yim, whose eight years of freedom following the assault triggered concerns from many Indonesians, finally began serving her sentence at Kajang Women’s Prison in Selangor.

Humphrey R. Djemat, the spokesman for the Indonesian government’s task force on migrant workers, said he praised Nirmala’s tireless pursuit of justice.

“The Indonesian government totally supports the move. In my opinion, the chance to win the case is big because the defendant has been convicted in criminal court,” Humphrey told the Post.

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 Soortgelijke onderwerpen
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» Maid’s Beheading Could See Ban on Workers in Saudi Arabia, Govt Says
» Thousands Stranded in Saudi Arabia Get Lift Home
» Saudi Arabia Pardons 141 Jailed Migrant Workers From Indonesia
» Saudi Arabia executes another Indonesian without prior notification

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