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The long road to protect domestic workers

Tempo - June 26, 2021

Jakarta – The Domestic Workers Protection Bill is yet to be passed. The cultural relationship that allows such imbalances must end.

The Domestic Workers' Protection Bill should immediately be passed in order to protect domestic workers from exploitation and injustice. The bill was discussed on the initiative of the House of Representatives (DPR) in 2004, but has only just been included in the 2021 Priority National Legislation Program.

Domestic workers are susceptible to exploitation because their working relationships are private. They work in an environment without adequate freedoms. The majority of domestic workers work long hours, do not have weekly days off, are paid less than minimum wage, and are not enrolled in the health care program.

However, passing the bill into law has been challenging. Last year, it had been agreed that the Legislation Body would propose the bill. Seven factions in the DPR agreed the bill would be passed into law, but in the end, it was not included in the agenda of the Consultative Body and as a result, was not deliberated in a DPR plenary session.

There is still misplaced thinking among politicians from two parties, who see the Domestic Workers Protection Bill as not being in line with Indonesian culture. They take the view that the relationship between domestic workers and their employees is informal, meaning there is no need for it to be subject to legal regulation as that would make it more difficult for employers to find help.

So far, there has been a problem of the feudalistic culture in the way the Domestic Workers Protection Bill has been viewed. The lack of regulation means that most domestic workers only have a verbal agreement before taking the work with their employers. Most of them do not have written contracts. Only a few of them understand the importance of such contracts.

This means that domestic workers have a very weak bargaining position and are prone to exploitation, swindles, and even to becoming victims of human trafficking. The rights of domestic workers should not be solely dependent on the goodwill of employers, but should be a mutually beneficial relationship like it is with other professions.

If it is passed into law, this bill will not only protect domestic workers in Indonesia, but also overseas. Many Indonesian migrant workers have been mistreated because our nation has no laws that can protect them.

Read the Complete Story in Tempo English Magazine: https://magz.tempo.co/read/38026/the-long-road-to-protect-domestic-workers

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1476774/the-long-road-to-protect-domestic-worker