Lax Rules; Indonesia May See 20% Increase of Foreign Workers



Laila Afifa

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The number of foreign workers in Indonesia is estimated to rise 20 percent from last year's 95,335 people. This would be the result of the Labor Minister's decree No.228/2019 that eases the entry rules of foreign workers

    Timbul Siregar, secretary-general of the Indonesian Workers' Organization (OPSI), believes that the decree will raise the number of foreigners working in Indonesia.

    "I expect it will increase by 20 percent by the end of next year, as there is only a few more months to 2020," he said as quoted by, Wednesday 12 September.

    The Labor Ministry's data showed that at the end of 2018 there were 95,335 foreign workers in Indonesia, up 10.8 percent from 2017's 85,974.

    Timbul admitted that, when compared to the 136.18 million local workforces, the number of foreign workers is low. However, if the relaxation is implemented, he is worried that Indonesia will see an influx of migrant workers, which would cause problems for the open unemployment group that currently accounts for 5.01 percent or some around 6.82 million people.

    Moreover, he said that a rise in foreign workers will occur simultaneously with the influx of investors and construction works, which are funded by foreign debt.

    "Even if foreign companies invest in Indonesia, what good would it do if the workers are from their own country?" he lamented.

    The OPSI asked the government to reconsider the decree by referring to and adhering with Law 42 to 49 of the Labor Law; taking into account current labor force and unemployment conditions.

    Additionally, he said that the government must ensure the availability of jobs for Indonesian workers first, and ensure that domestic workers have skills and certification so that they have bargaining power and can compete with foreign workers.