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Indonesia asks for wage hike for migrant workers in Taiwan

2016/08/22 23:10:15

Jakarta, Aug. 22 (CNA) Indonesia wants to revise a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Taiwan to bring wages for its nationals working on fishing boats and as domestic helpers in line with Taiwan's minimum wage, a high-rank Indonesian official said Monday.

The plan to seek a revision to the 2011 Taiwan-Indonesia MOU on recruiting, settling and protecting workers was brought up at a meeting of the labor and foreign affairs ministries, Soes Hindarno, director of placement and protection of Indonesian workers abroad under the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, told CNA.

His country wants the revision to focus on the rights and benefits of Indonesian fishing workers in Taiwan because their conditions are not favorable, said Hindarno, who was at the Monday meeting.

They will ask Taiwan to increase the fishing workers' wages, he said, noting that the goal is for wages to be at least the same as the statutory minimum wage in Taiwan.

Just as importantly, Indonesia will ask that the facilities where Indonesian fishing workers do their jobs and spend their leisure time be improved, Hindarno said.

As for domestic helpers, including maids and caregivers, their wages should also reach the minimum wage level in Taiwan, he said.

Taiwan should also adopt regulations banning employers from asking maids to work as a caregiver or vice versa, he added.

Though the Indonesian government wants higher wages and better conditions for its workers, it also acknowledges that there is a problem with migrant workers who run away from their employers and jobs, Hindarno said.

He said the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration will discuss the causes of the problem and ways to prevent it with the relevant Taiwanese authorities.

Indonesia plans to discuss possible revisions on the MOU with Taiwan between October and December and expects the talks to be held in Taiwan, he said.

The MOU was signed by the then Taiwan representative to Indonesia, Hsia Li-yan (夏立言), and Harmen Sembiring, representative of the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office to Taipei, in 2011.

It covered such issues as the promotion of a direct employment system, the prevention of human trafficking, and the costs that cropped up when Indonesian workers went missing.

According to Taiwan's Ministry of Labor, only the wages of foreign workers in the industrial sector is based on Taiwan's minimum wage of NT$20,008 per month.

The minimum wage for foreign domestic helpers was revised upwards to NT$17,000 per month in September last year.

As of the end of July, there were 178,498 Indonesian workers in the social welfare sector in Taiwan, accounting for 78 percent of all migrant workers from Indonesia there, according to Taiwan government data.

(By Jay Chou and Elizabeth Hsu)