Indonesia sets tough terms for maids' return to Saudi

Maid’s wage must be raised 40% and work must not exceed 8 hours a day

Indonesia has told Saudi Arabia it would allow its domestic workers to return to the oil-rich Gulf Kingdom only after it agrees to raise their monthly wages by at least 40 per cent and allow them to work a maximum eight hours a day.

Employers in the largest Arab economy must also stop the practice of keeping the maid’s passport and give her a day holiday every Friday.

Jakarta conveyed the new conditions to a Saudi labour delegation during talks in Indonesia early this year, according to the Saudi daily Alwatan.

“Indonesia is demanding that the minimum monthly salary of the housemaid must be raised from SR850 to SR1,200” the paper said, quoting Saleh Haranda, a member of the labour recruitment committee at the chamber of commerce and industry in the western Red Sea port of Jeddah.

“Indonesian officials will visit Saudi Arabia shortly to discuss these conditions, which they say are a pre-requisite for their maids’ return to the Kingdom.”

Saudi Arabia, the largest labour importer in the Middle East, has been
locked in negotiations with Indonesia and the Philippines to end a ban on the travel of their housemaids to the Kingdom more than a year ago.

Other conditions set by Indonesia include allowing maids to have full health insurance and a month wage during sick leaves.

“The proposed job contract also stipulates that employers must mention their address, type of house, size and number of floors, family income and a picture
showing all members of that family….the contract, a copy of which must be sent to the Indonesian embassy, should also include a certificate of good conduct for the employers and other family members as well as a statement pledging to treat their workers nicely, refrain from any violence and respect human rights.”

More than 1.5 million housemaids from the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other Asian and African nations work in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter which controls nearly a fifth of the global crude deposits.The Kingdom has been under fire from local and foreign human rights groups over the death of some housemaids, who have been reportedly killed by their employers. Pressure mounted in late 2010 following news that an Indonesian housemaid was severely tortured by her female employer.

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