KUCHING: Employers in the state have been told to recruit Indonesian maids through legitimate agencies to ensure they are qualified professionals who can do their jobs.
Indonesian Consul-General Djoko Harjanto said that Indonesians who wanted to be employed as maids in other countries were required to undergo a 20-hour course on their duties so that they were equipped with necessary skills to serve a household.
They were also reminded of their rights to getting a day off, to be allowed to keep their own passport and to have their salary banked in.
“The salary should be sufficient. Minimum wage set is RM800, but RM600 is also okay with us. Just don’t pay them RM200. Not too low. They should be getting at least RM600,” Djoko said, adding that Sarawak should not be too far behind Peninsular Malaysia in maids’ salary.
Djoko was speaking to The Borneo Post and Utusan Borneo at his Hari Raya open house on Sunday. He said the Indonesian Republic was addressing the issue of maids not being able to do their jobs well once sent to Malaysia.
“We’ve had problems in Malaysia because those sent here cannot perform,” he said.
“The minimum wage in Malaysia is welcomed, but we also must maintain a certain standard where maids can do their jobs well.”
The maids will also be educated on what is expected of them when working in Sarawak or other states, and not get exploited by their employers.
“Some have to look after children, some look after dogs, some asked to go to clean the house of the employer’s mother or siblings. That’s exploitation. They cannot go outside on the roof. That’s a man’s job. They cannot wash your car. That’s hard work for a woman. In Indonesia, our helpers don’t wash the car.”
While expressing his hope that the ill treatment would end, Djoko also added that communication problems could happen between the maid and her employer.
“Sometimes it’s communication problems, not just here but also in Indonesia, because they are not well educated people.”
Djoko warned against taking helpers who came to into the country on a tourist pass, pointing out that the consulate could not protect or offer any assistance to Indonesians who did not register their employment status with them.
“Don’t employ them. They did not come in through official channels. People here also have to cooperate. If anything happens to these unregistered maids, who is responsible? If they are listed with our office, we know where they are, we can check and we can rescue them if necessary, and return them to Indonesia.”
Dealing with an agency will cost more but it will be safer all around.
“Maids who came through the agency are trained. If there are problems, the agency will be responsible for replacing them.”
An employer holding on to the maid’s passport is no guarantee that the maid will not run away Djoko said adding that he receives a tall stack of passports belonging to runaway maids and plantation workers on a daily basis.
“Maids can lodge a report at the consulate if the employer is not meeting their end of the obligation. That’s all. Then we can have a heart-to-heart. If I make a police report this will go to court and that way is ‘kasar’. We just want to negotiate nicely. That is the role of the consulate.”