Missing evidence is a common obstacle for Indonesian migrant workers seeking rightful compensation. While Indonesian law requires employment agencies to provide both placement agreements and employment contracts, most migrant workers never receive these documents.
Facing a persistent shortage of evidence in our cases, JWB pioneered a new strategy to retrieve these crucial evidentiary documents in Indonesia.
By law, the Indonesian government agency Badan Nasional Penempatan dan Perlindungan Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (BNP2TKI) must retain copies of workers’ placement agreements with employment agencies and copies of workers’ employment contracts with their employer. To our knowledge, no one had tried to obtain these copies held by the government.
We were thus inspired by other social cause groups such as environment groups using the Public Information Disclosure Act which allows the retrieval of public interest documents from the government.
Turning to our clients, we attempted to use this law for the first time to retrieve personal documents.
Amazingly, our first test case on behalf of a migrant worker client was successful. We then tried requesting these documents for another five clients, and obtained their documents each time. This process led us to develop a template letter and request form so that other organisations can also retrieve their clients’ documents using this method. Our partner SBMI served as the local representative to deliver these requests to the government agency.
Today, we have a track record of over 20 clients we have retrieved documents for, and we are using this strategy as standard procedure for all our new cases. This is significant in that we have used something usually used for public documents to retrieve personal documents.
Ultimately, these documents will help in cases against bad employers and agencies. The documents prove many of the details needed for clients to win claims as diverse as overcharging of agency fees, underpayment of wages, or even living conditions worse than promised. This new strategy will help level the playing field between migrant workers and those who try to exploit them.
Finally, we are writing this new strategy into an infographic that will be freely available in Bahasa Indonesia and English. Our frontline partners can then use it and share with their clients going home as well.