Topic Scope and Objectives

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Content of Summer Course:

  1. Theories and Concepts

    The international migration of Indonesian labour is an important phenomenon that has supported development at the household, regional, and national level. The regional importance of this migration can be understood from the receipt of foreign exchange.

    Indonesia's international migration programme is conducted under the coordination of the Ministry of Labour and several other institutions. Its general goal has been to mitigate the risk of unemployment, increase incomes, and provide greater opportunities for the development of labourers' regions of origin. At the individual and household level, it is hoped that international labour will promote increased standards of living, as well as fundamental social improvements.

    However, socio-political contexts have transformed as information technology and global governments have developed, creating what may be termed a 'disrupted world'. In this 'disturbed world', shifts have occurred in public service and economic activity patterns. Terms such as 'online-based public services' and 'online marketing' reflect such changes in international migration policies.

    The roles of information and technology in the placement of migrant labour, as well as in labourers' activities, have become very complex. As such, it is important to examine migrant labour issues within the context of the 'disturbed world', which has led to shifts in migration policies and migrant behaviours. Consequently, the approaches used for studying labour migration have also transformed.

  2. The Dynamics of International Labour Migration

    The issue of global migration has also contributed importantly to demographic change and economic development. Socio-political issues related to demographic change in developing countries have stimulated complex and perforce migration.

    Migration itself, in general, occurs when labour markets are constrained. For example, migrant labourers from Indonesia, India, Myanmar, and the Philippines often travel to Hong Kong, Korea, or Taiwan, as the labour markets in these countries are perceived to provide better wages, social protections, and work conditions. Thus, labourers are forced to migrate as they search for security and attempt to avoid conflicts, political pressures, and natural disasters in their countries of origin.

    Where migrants are forced labourers, rather than educated ones, they are vulnerable to human rights abuses and receive limited protection from both governments of delivering and recipient countries. Meanwhile, the governments of recipient countries may attempt to limit migration (and with it, they argue, the threat of terrorism) in manners that have been seriously criticised as violations of human rights. The migrant restriction policies, or as some have termed them 'anti-immigration' policies, of the United States and several European countries have, for example, driven academics and policymakers to re-examine international migration policies and their protection of migrant workers and citizens of recipient countries.

  3. Empowerment and Protection

    It is quite difficult to measure the success of Indonesia's overseas labour placement programme. After all, is the media not replete with stories about unpaid workers, fraud upon workers' return to Indonesia, and various forms of assault? Almost every day the media reports how Indonesia's overseas labour placement programme brings misery to workers. Their hopes to realise better lives are dashed, replaced by sorrow and suffering. It is important to review international migration's effects on workers and regional development.

    As such, governments and stakeholders (including NGOs) have attempted to improve migrant labourers' protection abroad and empower the communities in migrants' regions of origin. Such projects include the Desmigratif programme initiated by the Ministry of Labour, as well as the Desbumi programme initiated by Migrant Care; the latter is a local initiative intended to ensure migrant workers are protected even before leaving the village.

  4. International Labour Migration Policy

    International migration policies only began to be enacted in Indonesia in 1970, when the New Order regime issued its Inter-Regional Migrant Labour and International Migrant Labour programmes. These migrant labour policies granted the public and private sector the authority to manage the international placement of migrant labourers. Migrant labour policies changed dynamically with the political situation in Indonesia. As cases of violence against Indonesian migrant labourers became widely reported, the government began to enact policies intended to protect workers.

    Policies for protecting Indonesian migrant labourers became necessary as workers were vulnerable to violence. The quality of Indonesia's migrant labourers has been considered low. Available statistics indicate that 82 per cent of Indonesian migrant labourers are rural women with only elementary school educations, and 98 per cent are domestic workers. As such, Indonesia's migrant women workers have been limited to jobs characterised by the three Ds: Dirty, Dangerous, and Difficult. As such, they are vulnerable to human rights violations, and many lose their lives (Kassim, 1997). As such, the State has taken an important role in protecting Indonesian migrant labourers abroad. For example, in 2004 the Indonesian government established the National Agency for Labour Placement and Protection (BNP2TKI), which was given the duty of protecting Indonesia's migrant workers abroad.

  5. The Economy of International Labour Migration

    International migration is strongly linked to economic growth, and foreign exchange is related integrally to migration. For foreign labourers' countries of origin, the wages collected by foreign labourers offers a means of collecting foreign currency and remittances and thereby reducing poverty. Foreign exchange has significant socio-economic value, not only for recipients but also for regional development.

    Furthermore, there is a strong link between migration and poverty. Migration can be considered an alternative means of escaping the poverty trap. The foreign exchange migrant labourers' send to their regions of origin. Furthermore, foreign exchange offers the potential to considerably improve family finances. Over time, this can eradicate poverty (at least in migrants' regions of origin). As such, poverty can serve as a powerful motive for migrant labour.

  6. Social Issues of International Labour Migration : Gender, Family, and Children

    The international migration of labour has significant social effects, both in workers' countries of origin and in their receiving countries. In migrants' regions of origin, significant changes in population structures and compositions as well as demographic conditions (i.e. dependency ratio or sex ratio). However, migration also has the potential to cause social conflict between citizens and migrants. Social interactions between citizens and migrants over time will cause cultural changes. No less important is the potential for the economic sector to shift or transform as a consequence of migration.

    Also involved in international migration are specific issues of gender, reproductive health, and children left behind.

    A high rate of migration is not only an economic issue. It also involves issues of gender relations, labour laws, and exploitation of migrant workers. During migration, many rights violations are experienced by women workers, indicating a lack of gender balance. Furthermore, discussion of gender roles is necessary in identifying the factors that motivate migration. The gendered division of responsibilities within households affects the propensity of men and women to migrate in different ways. Gender also influences migration destinations. Women are more likely to migrate overseas, rather than internally, and are more likely to migrate to a greater range of destinations than their male counterparts.

    Furthermore, the children left behind by migrant worker parents become vulnerable to social problems. Several studies have shown that children are heavily affected by their parents' decision to migrate, which influences how they are raised; migration, thus, can seriously affect children psychologically. Although parents' travelling abroad affects children's social lives, they continue to seek employment abroad to improve their families' financial situations.


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