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Indonesia: Domestic Workers Ask For National Day, More Days Off

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by IDWFED published Feb 16, 2009 12:00 AM
Contributors: Prodita Sabarini/The Jakarta Post
Protesters also demanded the government pass a Domestic Worker's Protection Law and officially make Feb. 15 a national holiday for domestic workers. In Indonesia, most middle-class families employ maids to perform domestic chores and childcare, but not all acknowledge their rights.

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JAKARTA, INDONESIA -

Read the original article in full: Domestic workers ask for  national day, more days  off | The Jakarta Post

Excerpt:

In a rare day off from housekeeping and childcare Sunday, domestic workers emerged from the domestic sphere to gather at the Hotel Indonesia Traffic Circle, Central Jakarta, to rally for their rights. 

Organized by the National Network for Domestic Workers Advocacy (Jala PRT), some 300 people, including 100 domestic workers, staged a rally to mark Feb. 15, a day the group has proclaimed National Domestic Workers Day.

Protesters carried cardboard posters depicting a maid on her knees at her employers feet, with words: “PRT are not allowed outside the house”. PRT is short for pekerja rumah tangga (domestic workers). The protesters also staged a short play about the daily life of a house maid. 

The protestors demanded employers acknowledge their job as a profession and give them rights such as getting the day off on official holidays. 

“Who calls themselves pembantu (helper) here?” a protester asked the crowd of domestic workers. 

“We should stop calling ourselves pembantu. We are workers!” 

“If all we do is help out people all the time, when do we receive our rights?” she asked, earning cheers from the crowd. 

Protesters also demanded the government pass a Domestic Worker’s Protection Law and officially make Feb. 15 a national holiday for domestic workers. 

In Indonesia, most middle-class families employ maids to perform domestic chores and childcare, but not all acknowledge their rights. 

The Jala PRT estimated in 2008 that more than 4 million people are employed as domestic workers, including one million child maids. 

However, despite this widespread use, Indonesia does not view the job as a profession. It is not recognized under Indonesia’s Labor Law. As some workers live with the employing family, the job remains in the private business of the family, outside of the sphere of labour laws and public scrutiny. 

Domestic workers face many problems. They receive very low pay for very heavy work loads. Salaries can start from as low as Rp 200,000. Lita said that sometimes employers keep their workers salary by delaying their payment and often reduce the salary as they like. 

There is also no fixed workload, resulting in long working hours. Domestic workers generally work for between 12 and 16 hours a day, they do not have weekly holidays and have very few opportunities to socialize outside their workplace.

Source: Prodita Sabarini/The Jakarta Post

Story Type: News

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