Indonesian migrants protest gov’t refusal for a dialogue on overcharging
“The overcharging of Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong has been a long standing issue that the Indonesian government never addressed. It is condemnable that government officials from Indonesia come to Hong Kong today to discuss this, they refused to talk to us who are the most affected by this concern.”
This was declared today by Eni Lestari, spokesperson of the United Indonesian against Overcharging (PILAR), in a protest action of Indonesian migrant workers during the visit of Mr. Erman Suparno of the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration to meet the Indonesian Consulate General in Hong Kong to discuss a proposal for a new placement fee.
The protesters submitted a petition to the Ministry opposing the HK$15,000 placement fee, that they believed is still too high, as well as for the government to allow dircet hiring of migrants.
“Where is the voice of the migrant workers in this meeting? Even the proposal to reduce placement fee from HK$21,000 to HK$15,000 was made only between the Ministry, Consulate representatives, the Department of Manpower of Indonesia, Association of recruitment agency in Indonesia (APJATI) and Association of Hong Kong Employment Agency (APPIH),” Lestari reported.
PILAR is an alliance of 18 Indonesian migrant workers’ organizations in Hong Kong that has been actively pushing for the resolution of the overcharging issue and the improvement of services for Indonesian migrants. In their rally last August 19 during the Indonesian Independence Day Commemoration, they submitted a petition signed by 13,563 migrants demanding to stop overcharging, the government to allow direct hiring for Indonesian migrants, full Consulate services to migrant workers on Sundays, and for an 8-hour services of the Consulate on weekdays.
According to Lestari, they have requested the Consulate to facilitate a dialogue between migrant workers and the Ministry today. However, Consulate officials refused the request saying that the schedule of Mr. Suparno was already full.
“If he can attend the Indonesian Independence Day Concert organized by the Consulate, he should also make time to meet the Indonesian migrants themselves. He must hear for himself our condition and demands instead of the sanitized version that the Consulate will surely give him,” Lestari added.
Lestari challenged the Indonesian Consulate and Mr. Suparno to provide an opportunity for migrant workers to air their concerns.
“This they must do to prove that it is not the interests of the recruiters and the government that they are protecting. They must be transparent in their dealings and the opinion of migrant workers must be solicited,” she furthered.
The group believed that the proposed placement fee is still too high. They said that the Indonesian government still has to show its political will to resolve the issue of overcharging.
“Overcharging of recruitment agencies is a plague that, sadly, the Indonesian government has failed to stamp out and instead has even helped perpetuate. Even the Hong Kong government has a hand for the non-stop exploitation of recruitment agencies as it also fails to implement its policy of 10% of the minimum salary ceiling for recruitment fee,” Lestari said.
Finally, the group said that they will continue to push through with their demands.
“We are prepared to create a bigger movement of Indonesian migrants not only in Hong Kong but also in other destination countries until the Indonesian government answer our demands,” Lestari concluded.
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