What you need to know
Taiwan’s aging society relies highly on domestic workers from Indonesia. However, Indonesian officials are restricting their citizens from working as laborers without professional skills overseas and may pose as a threat to the long-term care system in Taiwan.
Compiled and translated by Yuan-ling Liang
Indonesia is set to stop sending migrant workers as domestic help overseas and plans to reduce the number to zero by 2017, says Soes Hindarno, director of placement and protection of overseas workers under the Indonesia’s Ministry of Manpower.
Nearly 70% of Indonesia’s seven million migrant workers are lower-educated, which leads to 60% of them working as domestic workers overseas. Asian countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan are all main locations where these workers are sent to.
In recent years, exploitation of Indonesian employees all over the world has been reported widely and NGOs in Indonesia have drawn attention to human rights issues. The government has started to restrict the outflow of these workers and is striving to keep them in the country.
In 2015, Indonesian officials banned their citizens from working in 21 Middle Eastern countries to protect laborers from being exploited. However, many do not believe the policy will have much impact since laborers who were already working in these countries are out of Indonesian officials' control.
Indonesia President Joko Widodo launched the zero-maid policy at the beginning of May. The Indonesian government is gradually reducing the number of its domestic workers working abroad and is planning to launch more than 10 million domestic job openings for these workers while providing technical training as well. By 2018, it is anticipated that Indonesia would export mostly technical workers instead of laborers without professional skills.
The policy is expected to progressively take effect from 2017 to 2019, says Hindarno.
Taiwan’s long-term care system facing shortage
According to the Ministry of Labor in Taiwan, 170,000 Indonesians work as domestic workers in Taiwan, occupying 79% of the migrant workers from Indonesia. These workers are usually caretakers for the elderly in Taiwan and play a crucial role in the island’s long-term care system.
The National Development Council indicates that the aged population will surpass the underaged population this year, making Taiwan one of the most rapidly aging societies in the world.
Liu Chia-chun, director general of the Ministry of Labor’s Workforce Development Agency, told the press that the government would try to communicate with Indonesian officials to alleviate the impact of the domestic worker-cutting policy on Taiwan. The government will look to other southeast Asian countries for new caretakers.
Liu points out that, according to his observation, Taiwan treats foreign laborers better than other countries do, which might make it easier to negotiate with the Indonesian government.
However, according to a human rights report from the US Department of State, Taiwan has been treating migrant workers poorly. Foreign laborers in Taiwan protested against this situation last year, calling for agencies and employers to face the workers’ dignity.
Edited by Olivia Yang