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October 21, 2007

Higher wages for workers in Middle East negotiated

The Indonesian government and labor exporters recently agreed to a new minimum monthly wage of 800 real (214 U.S. dollars) for new Indonesian migrant workers in the Middle East, in particular Saudi Arabia, local press said Saturday.

The new wage -- increased from 600 real in June -- had been put into new labor contracts approved by Indonesian embassies in the region.
Saudi Arabia is the main importer of Indonesian workers in the Middle East. About 3 million Indonesians are working in Saudi, a majority of which employed as maids and in the construction and mining sectors, reported English daily The Jakarta Post.

Indonesia could not adhere to the request from the Saudi Arabian labor supplying agency Sanarcom to suspend the wage increase until January 2008, head of the government-backed National Labor Export and Protection Agency, Jumhur Hidayat, was quoted as saying.

The rate has not increased for more than a decade and the decision was based on extensive studies of the labor market in the region, he said
By comparison, Indonesian maids working in Hong Kong are paid at least 2,000 Hong Kong dollars (258 U.S. dollars ) a month and are entitled to one day off a week. In Saudi Arabia workers must also endure longer working hours of up to 18 hours per day.

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