Monday May 16, 2011
By AMY CHEW email@example.com
JAKARTA: Indonesia may not be able to fulfill Malaysia's need for 50,000 domestic helpers as the country's economy improves, making it more attractive for women to work at home rather than seek a living in a foreign land.
Indonesia is also seeking a minimum wage of RM700 for the workers.
Its Labour and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar told The Star that he was confident both countries would be able to conclude negotiations on domestic workers at the end of this month but his country would struggle to supply 50,000 domestic helpers when the ban is lifted.
“Interest in working as a domestic worker is starting to decline.
“Based on the information we have received, Malaysia needs 50,000 domestic workers. I am not certain we will be able to meet this demand.
“But we will try our best for those (employers) who meet the standards for salary and (worker) protection. We are looking at a minimum wage of RM700,” Muhaimin said.
At a joint press conference with Muhaimin in Kuala Lumpur in March, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said the issue of minimum wage was not discussed and would be left to market forces.
Jakarta stopped sending maids to Malaysia in June 2009 following reports of maid abuse.
Migrant worker NGOs also complained of lack of benefits, including a minimum monthly salary.
Negotiations on the MoU include giving maids one day off a week, the right to hold their own passport, monthly salary to be paid through a bank transfer and a joint task force to ensure protection of the workers.
During the two-year moratorium, many workers who could not be sent to Malaysia largely worked in the agricultural sector.
“They (workers) were not diverted (to other countries),” said Muhaimin.
Indonesia is South-East Asia's largest economy and recorded a 6.1% GDP growth rate last year to strengthen its position as one of the emerging market's best performers.
As a result of the ban, the number of Indonesian workers entering Malaysia declined to 154,202 in 2010 from 276,633 in 2009, according to the Indonesian Labour and Transmigration Ministry.
The ban was only for domestic helpers.
Prior to the ban, Malaysia played host to the largest number of Indonesian migrant workers every year.
Monday May 16, 2011