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COVID-19: Impact On Sources of Income of TKI (Indonesian workers)

COVID-19: Impact On Sources of Income of TKI (Indonesian workers)

By Susilawati, ME, Lecturer, Islamic Economy Institute of Bengkalis (STIE SYARIAH)

The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic around the world has changed various aspects of human life from the social, economic, cultural and religious aspects, both in Indonesia and around the world.

CNN Indonesia says the first positive case of Covid-19 in Indonesia was recorded on March 2, 2020, which was immediately announced by the President of the Republic of Indonesia. The origin of the Covid-19 virus was found in Wuhan, China in November 2019. The initial ranking was 15 Indonesian citizens who worked in various countries were infected with this virus.

According to the World Bank, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a broad impact, especially on vulnerable groups. One of the most vulnerable groups affected by the Covid-19 pandemic is Indonesian Migrant Workers (TKI). According to Law Number 18 of 2017 concerning the Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers, the Indonesian Migrant Workers (TKI) are classified as every Indonesian citizen who have done work and received wages outside the territory of the Republic of Indonesia. The TKI are a group that is vulnerable to the transmission of this disease. The number of migrant workers abroad currently reaches 7 million people, located in 132 countries.

For the National Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI); the placement of Indonesian workers abroad in 2019 was 276,553 people consisting of 133,993 Formal workers (official government channels) and 142,560 Informal workers (individually). Indonesian Workers are very influential on the income of the Indonesian State in the form of Foreign Exchange. According to CNN Indonesia, there was a decline in contributions of around 17 percent from US$ 11.7 billion in 2019 to US$ 9.7 billion in 2020. Not only the workforce was affected by Covid 19, but the country was also heavily affected in the form of foreign exchange slowing down.

Based on the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) data, the impact of COVID-19 has greatly affected the income sources of Indonesian workers due to restrictions on their workplace. Employment conditions are getting worse in almost all countries in the world. It is estimated that nearly 2.2 billion workers or 68 percent were under workplace closures or lockdowns.

The Indonesian workforce represents 4.7 percent of the global workforce, comprising 164 million people. The large number of Indonesian workers working abroad is because they think they have a greater source of income than working in their own country.

The majority of Indonesian workers are classified as low-skilled workers. The skills they have are mostly related to the Domestic Work, Agriculture and Plantation and Development sectors.

The ILO report states that Indonesian workers are often excluded from the COVID-19 prevention policies by the countries where they work, such as salary subsidies. Another problem faced by Indonesian Migrant Workers is the limited opportunity to take a COVID-19 test or medical treatment due to their status as unlicensed workers. They also sometimes do not get proper social security compared to formal sector workers (official) so they do not have the proper protection in terms of health.

During this pandemic, the process of Indonesian workers going abroad was hindered. This uncertainty creates anxiety for Indonesian workers in finding work abroad. Meanwhile, workers in the placement country also experienced difficulties because many of these countries impose restrictions on movement, so they cannot work normally or are forced to return to Indonesia. The declining economic conditions due to social restrictions have affected the demand for Indonesian workers outside the country. This decline causes an increase in the number of unemployed workers in the country.

Comprehensive protection regulations for Indonesian Migrant Workers are needed in overcoming the problem of income for workers who cannot return to work abroad. Various incentives need to be carried out by the Indonesian government in providing assistance to this group. Besides providing consumptive assistance, they may also provide business capital according to the skills they have acquired while working abroad (to settle in Indonesia).