Jakarta, 12 February 2008
Mr. Alan Boulton, Director of ILO Jakarta,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am greatly pleased and honoured to have signed on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Memorandum of Understanding between the International Labour Organization and the Department concerning Capacity Building Training of Foreign Service Personnel on Promotion and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers.
We in the Department are deeply grateful to Mr. Alan Boulton, Director of ILO Jakarta, for his initiative and the cooperation he extended to us that led to the signing of this important MoU. I would also like to commend the Centre for Education and Training of the Department for its essential contributions to this endeavour.
This is the second MoU to be signed between the ILO and the Department. Under the first MOU, several training programmes for the diplomatic staff on the rights of migrant workers and their protection have been completed.
The ILO and the Department’s Centre for Education and Training have also jointly conducted the training of trainers, training of supervisors, and workshops in our embassies and consulates abroad on the protection of migrant workers.
Moreover, the ILO has developed the training materials on serving migrant workers for regular diplomats and other categories of Department officials.
Those were the activities in the first phase of our cooperation with the ILO.
The launching of the second phase of our cooperation with the signing of this second MoU could not have been more timely. Let me explain.
Indonesian migrant workers are fast growing in number and the earnings that they regularly send home have brought a better life for their families. They are also significantly contributing to national economic development. In a very real sense, Indonesian migrant workers are our economic heroes.
But they are heroes facing formidable problems. They are in need of help and we who are in business of diplomacy are called upon to help them.
Their problems are numerous and complex and have become serious national issues. The Indonesian public is aware of these issues and is demanding prompt and effective solutions.
Of course, it is necessary that Indonesian migrant workers be provided legal protection. But the underlying problems must also be addressed. These include the migrant workers’ lack of skills, education and awareness of their rights and obligations.
They particularly need to be knowledgeable on work opportunities, the language of the receiving country, money transactions, work and immigration regulations and social security. We must therefore empower them with these knowledge and skills.
The Government of Indonesia has therefore responded to that crying need. Presidential Decree number 06/2006 mandates the reform of the system of placement and protection of the Indonesian workers. The Department of Foreign Affairs and other Indonesian representatives in foreign countries have given the highest priority to the protection of Indonesian workers abroad.
Thus we recently established Citizens Service Units in several embassies and consulates as pilot projects. The idea is to provide faster, more convenient and friendly services designed to improve the plight of our workers abroad.
We accomplished plenty under the first MoU. This time I expect that we will deliver even more robust help to our migrant workers. The new MoU provides a firm foundation for innovative and more effective policies. And some of its provisions have tremendous possibilities.
For instance, it provides for training of Foreign Service personnel on labour promotion and marketing. This means that our diplomats of our Citizens’ Service Centres in our foreign missions will soon be able to ‘sell’ the skills of our human resources in the highly competitive labour markets abroad.
They will be able to accurately gauge labour demand and raise the quality and profile of Indonesian migrant workers to match the demand.
The skills training and education components of the second phase of our cooperation will help improve the competitiveness of Indonesian workers in the global labour market. At the same time, training of Foreign Service personnel in labour promotion and marketing will open up new employment opportunities for Indonesian migrant workers.
We will, of course, depend on the ILO to provide lecturers and resource persons as well as training materials for this effort. There will have to be lectures on legal assistance, counseling, skills training and other services expected of the Foreign Service personnel. The modules and curricula will have to be based on international best practices.
Every Indonesian should therefore be glad that the ILO is working hard in this country.
The benefits that will be reaped from this cooperation between the ILO and the Department are broad and far-reaching.
In the first place, we will be ensuring that the Indonesian migrant worker is no longer a victim of circumstance and exploiters. If we are proud of him today because of his contributions to the national economy, we will even be prouder of him when he has undergone extensive training.
Because of his new knowledge and skills, he will have full dignity as a human being. He will be a more valuable asset to his employer and a contributor not only to the economy of his own country but to the economy of the host country. He will be contributing to the growth of friendship, mutual understanding and mutual respect between his country, Indonesia, and the host country.
Thus he will also be Indonesia’s ambassador of goodwill wherever he is employed, and a hero to the cause of international understanding.
I thank you.