KPI Calls for Judicial Review of Law on Migrant Workers

Indonesia Seafarers Union (KPI) calls for judicial review of Law (UU) No18/2017 on protection of migrant workers to Constitutional Court (MK). The regulation, according to KPI, does not clearly accommodate the position of protection for Indonesian seafarers working abroad.

“We think that the law has not touched the substance of providing protection for Indonesian seafarers who work abroad,” KPI President Prof. Dr. Mathias Tambing said in press statement this morning, Saturday, September 25, 2021.

According to Mathias, seafaring is one of the jobs that has great responsibility and high risk, such as ship accidents and drownings. To prevent risks, it is necessary to have stricter qualifications of workers as seafarers and the provision of legal protection for seafarers which is comprehensively regulated.

However, said Mathias, in one of the articles of the law, it only states that seafarers who work abroad are migrant workers, but there is no further elaboration.

Seafarers, he notes, have an important and strategic role, as they drive for the smooth movement of people and goods, ensure supply of commodities to run safely and smoothly.

Therefore, the government needs to prepare qualified regulations in order to provide protection for Indonesian seafarers who work on international ships or abroad.

Moreover, he added, Indonesia is one of the countries that has the largest number of seafarers in the world. “So, it is necessarily for the government to seriously protect them,” Mathias said.

According to Mathias, protection of Indonesian seafarers was still lower than expected and did not meet international standards. This is also due to the provisions of national legislation, which he considered unbalanced and created legal uncertainty.

“Facts have proven it.  There were various problems the seafarers have experienced, including job fraud, unpaid wages, fake documents to slavery on board, and so on,” he said.

Based on data from the Ministry of Transportation (Kemenhub), as of February 2021, total Indonesian seafarers reached 1.2 million, which are distributed to fishing boats and commercial vessels. Even, the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment estimated that the potential state revenue from Indonesian seafarers reached around Rp 151.2 trillion per annum.

Mathias said that the protection of seafarers’ rights has been regulated in the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) 2006. However, he said, in general, problems arise when related parties, such as shipowners, insurance companies, flag states, and port countries, shift responsibility for resolving cases of seafarers’ abandonment.

“Therefore, the law (UU No 18/2017) needs to be strengthened in order to accommodate the protection for seafarers. Let’s discuss the regulation together and if necessary, it should get judicial review by MK (Constitutional Court),” said Mathias.

On the other hand, he said, according to international rules, it relates to aspects of the implementation of IMO instruments related to ship safety, especially in terms of the minimum number of crew requirements on ships which is often a concern in resolving cases of ABK abandonment.

“Therefore, a practical approach is needed for the implementation of the 2006 MLC so that an effective resolution of the abandonment of crew members can be achieved,” said Mathias.

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