ATKI Press Statement

Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers
c/o APMM, No. 2 Jordan Road, Kowlon, HK SAR
Tel. No.: 27237536 Fax No.: 27354559

21 August 2005

53% Indonesian helpers underpaid,
50% get less holiday
Migrant group calls for urgent actions on wage,
employment condition of Indonesian migrants

The Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers (Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia di Hong Kong, ATKI-HK) today released the initial results of the survey the group conducted for 10 Sundays from April to 14 August 2005 determine the current employment situation of Indonesia domestic helpers.

The results were relayed to the press in time for the anniversary celebration of Indonesian Independence Day led by the group at Victoria Park, Causeway Bay. ATKI-HK gathered 2,770 respondents for the survey.

According to Eni Lestari, ATKI-HK chairperson, the survey reaffirmed long-standing issues of Indonesia domestics as well as revealing new concerns “that should be addressed by the Indonesian and Hong Kong governments.”

“Underpayment and overcharging of placement fee remain to be the most serious and major problems of Indonesian migrants. Fifty-three percent (53%) of Indonesian domestics get less than the already low HK$3,270 minimum wage – the majority of which only receive HK$1,800 to HK$2,000 (37%). Meanwhile, 51% of those we surveyed pay more than HK$20,000 placement fee to recruiters. The fee is deducted form their monthly salary for a period of seven months,” Lestari relayed.

According to Lestari, the deregulation of Indonesian labor export has skyrocketed the fees charged by recruiters to prospective domestic helpers who largely came from rural and farming sector of Indonesia 67%.

To further show the collaboration of recruiters and financing agencies, it was revealed that 41% of those surveyed pay their placement fee to financing companies.

Ninety-nine percent (99%) of the Indonesian domestics surveyed were in support of the call to bring back HK$3,670 minimum wage and the abolition of the levy.

“This just shows,” said Lestari, “that together with addressing the issue of underpayment and overcharging of fees, an immediate concern as well of Indonesian helpers is the increase of our minimum wage and the removal of the levy that has been a burden to migrant workers.”

Additionally, Lestari reported that other labour and immigration issues were also bared by the survey. Among these are: the lack of holidays for Indonesian helpers, long working hours, physical and sexual abuse, and the confiscation of passports by employers or agencies.

“Fifty percent (50%) of the respondents are only given one or two holidays per month while 47% of them are also not given all of the statutory holidays provided by the Labor Department. Meanwhile, 57% of Indonesian migrants work for more than 12 hours a day with an astounding 20% working for 20 hours or more,” Lestari said.

The group also revealed that one in 100 Indonesians suffer form sexual harassment while one in 200 has been raped by their employer.

As well, 43% said that their passports were confiscated by their agency while 20% said that their passports were being withheld by their employer. Such a practice is illegal in Hong Kong.

“The survey results have given more credence to what we have always declared that the situation of Indonesian migrants, especially in terms of wage, remains bad. Together with other issues revealed by the survey, their condition is surely much worse.

“We challenge the Indonesian government and the Hong Kong government to address these concerns most importantly are the demands to bring back HK$3,670 minimum wage, abolish the levy, and stamp out underpayment and overcharging of fees by recruiters,” Lestari concluded.