Indonesian Language Blog

Indonesian Migrant Workers (TKI – Tenaga Kerja Indonesia) Posted by on Oct 31, 2018 in Uncategorized

As the fourth largest population in the world, Indonesia has a large workforces surplus. The poverty combined with the scarcity and unitability of jobs for those with lack of education has led numbers of Indonesia specifically from the village and suburbs to seek employment abroad. They expect to earn money and hoping to improve their lives economically. They are called the Indonesia migrant workers or TKI – Tenaga Kerja Indonesia.

The government of Indonesia that started the TKI program in 1969 called them “Pahlawan Devisa” (the heroes/heroines of state foreign exchange). They contribute to 10% of the state budget (APBN – Anggaran Pengeluaran dan Belanja Negara) placed second from oil and gas sector income. They work in 161 countries in Asia, USA, Middle-East, Africa, Europe, and Australia.

The Indonesian migrant workers consist of 30% men and 70% women which are called TKW – Tenaga Kerja Wanita (women’s labor). However, due to their low-skilled TKWs ended up working at the domestic sector. They are prone to exploitation, extortion, physical and sexual abuses, and suffered by those enduring human trafficking. Most of the time, they returned home being disabled and even worse, they are sending home without receiving their wages.

While the TKWs also called the Indonesian domestic helpers to work abroad, their lives are controlled by their employers withhold their passports. Aside from that, they cannot even leave the current employer without the prospective employer.

Several cases of abuses upon TKWs has been reported and gained worldwide attention are the executions of Indonesian domestic workers in Saudi Arabia.

This October 2018, there was another Indonesian domestic worker Tuti Tursilawati, who worked in Saudi Arabia who allegedly murder her employer in 2011 has been executed without first giving prior notice to the Indonesian government. Indonesian authorities have been outrage over Saudi Arabia’s decision.

Therefore, to protect the Indonesian migrant workers in the foreseen future, the current administration of the President of Indonesia Joko Widodo has pulled the Indonesian migrant workers, specifically the TKWs home to assure their safety through providing better policies and procedures in handling Indonesian migrant workers in Indonesia and abroad.

Indonesian people are hopeful that if the policies and procedures are already in place, they will prevent and stop the TKIs or TKWs from experiencing similar tragic incidents.

Related words and phrases:

How to say it in English How to say it in bahasa Indonesia

working abroad bekerja di luar negeri
to withold the passport menahan paspor
Indonesian migrant worker Tenaga Kerja Indonesia – TKI
Women labor Tenaga Kerja Wanita – TKW
Indonesian government pemerintah Indonesia
to protect Indonesian migrant worker(s) untuk melindungi TKI
prone to rentan terhadap
-extortion -pemerasan
-exploitation -eksploitasi
physical and sexual abuse pelecehan fisik dan seksual
human trafficking perdagangan manusia


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About the Author: asimonoff

I’m an Indonesian language instructor, instructional material developer, reading test developer, and interpreter. I have been teaching Indonesian to adult students for 15 years, and have been teaching students from many backgrounds, such as private, military and diplomatic service employees. I’m Indonesian, but am living in the US now; my exposure to different cultures in my home country and in the US has enriched my knowledge in teaching Indonesian as a second language. I approach the teaching of the Indonesian language by developing students’ critical cultural awareness and competence. This method of teaching has been proven to be a key to the success of my students. Students become conscious of the essential role culture plays in the language.