Antara, Jakarta – The Manpower Ministry has prevented 87 Indonesian workers from being illegally sent to Middle East countries during a recent unannounced inspection at Juanda International Airport near the East Java capital of Surabaya.
Haiyani Rumondang, the ministry's director-general of workers' safety and health supervision, said the inspection was conducted on Saturday to follow up on a tipoff from community members.
"Our team immediately moved there and was joined by the East Java Manpower Department's labor supervisory team. They took preventive actions against 87 Indonesian migrant workers who were about to fly with Lion Air and Batik Air planes at around 8:30 a.m. bound for Malaysia and Singapore, believed to be the transit points before continuing the trip to the Middle East," Haiyani was quoted by Antara news agency as saying.
She said the ministry has frequently launched a similar operation at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, prompting labor exporter agencies to move the departure point to another airport.
"We call on regional manpower oversight bodies to pay special attention to this issue in their respective area," she said.
The ministry is investigating further to identify those responsible for the worker smuggling attempt in coordination with East Java authorities.
They could be charged under the 2017 law on the protection of Indonesian migrant workers which carries a punishment of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to Rp 15 billion.