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Labour Disputes and Foreign Migrant Workers in Indonesia
Indonesia is a net emigration country, and is typically seen as a sender of migrants. But in the country, there is also a much smaller and diverse population of foreign migrants who live and work in both regular and irregular situations. Amongst them are migrant workers with a complete set of paperwork and permissions from the Indonesian government. They ought to have much the same quantity and quality of legal rights as citizens, including access to the national industrial relations system for seeking enforcement of their employment rights. Generally, they are only employed in jobs that promise higher pay and better work conditions, and in this way, they are privileged. But at work, they encounter many of the same rights abuses as Indonesian workers, such as not being paid wages or granted leave. While most migrant workers cut their losses, either at work or after they change employment, a small number sue their employers through Indonesia’s industrial relations system. Procedurally, the process ought to be the same for both national and foreign workers, but the actual lawsuits have distinct characteristics. This paper presents a preliminary analysis of all cases that were decided at the Industrial Relations Court (until September 2019) to provide an evidence base for a discussion about migrant workers and rights enforcement in Indonesia.