Manama: Indonesia is likely to lift a ban it slapped last September on sending workers to Kuwait following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would help improve migrant workers' conditions.
"The initial reason for the MoU was to request that the Kuwaiti government provide more protection for our workers in Kuwait. The ban [on workers coming to Kuwait] will be lifted if we agree on the content of the MoU," Aris Triyano, the first secretary and spokesman for the Indonesian ambassador in Kuwait, was quoted as saying by Kuwait Times yesterday.
The memorandum is expected to include the introduction of a mandatory monthly minimum wage and a weekly holiday for Indonesian workers and will put an end to employers retaining workers' passports.
A preliminary meeting on the issue was held in Kuwait last year, but the final agreement has not been released yet, Triyano said.
"I can only confirm our preliminary meetings with the Kuwaiti side last year; as far as I know, we invited them [Kuwaiti officials] to visit Jakarta, and they haven't responded yet to our invitation. So I assume the MoU has not been completed yet. But I think, given the readiness of two countries to enter into agreement, it could happen soon," he said.
Indonesian reports quoted Iskandar Maula, the director of the Indonesian Ministry of Overseas Workers, as saying that Kuwait needed more time to study the proposals contained in the MoU. The official, however, stressed that the agreement was necessary.
Many Indonesian workers in Kuwait have complained that they could not leave the country after facing problems mainly because of the lack of cooperation from their sponsors, he said. Citing increasing problems confronting Indonesian domestic staff in Kuwait, Jakarta last September banned the employment of its nationals in the Gulf state.
"The Ministry of Labour in Jakarta implemented the order in mid-September. We currently have around 600 runaway housemaids at our embassy. They have issues that need to be resolved, and although the government of Kuwait has been very helpful, until their concerns are resolved we have to temporarily suspend deployment," Faisal Esmail, Indonesian Ambassador to Kuwait and Bahrain, said in October.