Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH — After three years of discussions between the Kingdom and Indonesia, an agreement allowing domestic workers to work again in Saudi Arabia saw light on Wednesday.
The two governments agreed on a bilateral agreement that was signed by Minister of Labor Adel Fakieh and Indonesian Manpower and Transmigration Minister Abdul Muhaimin Iskandar in Riyadh.
This new agreement is “historic and remarkable”, said Iskandar, adding: “We hope that this agreement will strengthen the protection and comfort of Indonesian workers who will be employed in the Kingdom.”
This agreement reviewed the regulations and systems by which Indonesian domestic workers would be employed.
The Indonesian minister stated they valued Saudi efforts to recruit workers from Indonesia.
“We welcome the Saudi ministerial decision regarding the approval of a protection system for families and domestic workers.”
He added that his country hoped the Kingdom would provide special care to Indonesian workers.
“The agreement provides protection guarantees to employers and workers.” The agreement sets a clear explanation of duties, wages, responsibilities and contract timings.
It also stipulates one day off a week for workers, allows them to keep their passports, ensures salaries are paid through bank transfers, allows workers to get in touch with others, provides health insurance and will establish a call center to protect domestic workers around the clock.
The Indonesian government has previously worked on providing services regarding employment and protection of its workers abroad as well as providing them with training before they are sent to their employers, explained the official.
The two governments are now setting working groups that will start immediately to arrange meetings “to ensure protection and comfort for Indonesian domestic workers and also to ensure that employers are getting their services,” stated a spokesman at the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration.
What is essential, he said, is to follow up on the new employment system to ensure all regulations are being implemented through cooperation between different government bodies.
He said: “Signing this agreement does not mean an immediate withdrawal of the boycott (on labor from Indonesia).
“The withdrawal of the boycott will be approved later after the Indonesian and Saudi governments are ready to implement the articles of the agreement and all included regulations and legislation through the cooperation of government bodies from the two countries.
“We are still waiting for the two countries and the concerned authorities to be ready to implement the regulations stated in the agreement and there will be a follow up meeting to discuss and negotiate the approval of the Saudi party.”
Hattab Al-Enizi, spokesman for the Ministry of Labor, stated its ministerial delegation is coming from Indonesia to sign the agreement.
The agreement included a statement from the Ministry of Labor that said:
“[The agreement aims to] strengthen relations between the two countries and moderate the relationship between employers and employees. ”
The statement, received by Saudi Gazette, clarified that the agreement provides a unified work contract for all domestic workers as set by the Saudi and Indonesian sides.
The employment of domestic workers shall be done only through recruitment companies that are authorized by both countries.
The agreement also states employers and employees shall have access to concerned authorities in case of any disputes.
Workers shall also pass health examinations and be trained and fit to work in homes.
They should also have no criminal records and possess good manners. Employers are asked also to provide a suitable atmosphere in homes for domestic workers.
The ministry has also signed so far four agreements with Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka that will meet 70 percent of the demand for housekeeper and drivers in the Kingdom.
“This comes as part of efforts to open new markets and manage the local labor market,” said the ministry statement.
The ministry has worked on domestic workers’ rules and started new committees that look into their issues, added the statement.
The Indonesian government decided in August 2011 to ban any domestic workers from going to the Kingdom due to the number of abuse cases that had been documented in different Saudi cities.
Since then, the two parties have been negotiating ways to reach an agreement by which Saudis can enjoy the services of domestic workers and employees are protected by law.