Addressing Migrant Labor Exploitation

A root cause of this migrant labor exploitation in Indonesia  is the lack of access to accurate and actionable information: from the demand side, migrants are unable to resist manipulation and mobilize to advocate for changes the way that existing policies are implemented or to government corruption; from the supply side, key stakeholders, such as government departments and employers, lack usable data to understand the scale and scope of the recruitment and migration issue and thus face difficulties developing and implementing effective policies to address problems. Thus, the lack of accurate information, open discussion and community mobilization leads to abuse and exploitation of migrant workers by bureaucrats, community leaders, recruiters and companies.

indonesia country pageIn Indonesia, Equal Access implemented a project called Addressing Migrant Labor Issues Along Supply Chains Project which sought to educate potential migrants about recruitment processes, challenges and risks while mobilizing communities to become more informed actors whose members collaborate to protect potential migrants and overseas workers. The project goals were to: educate Indonesian workers in Malaysia about their rights; decrease incidents of exploitation and excessive recruitment charges by agents and brokers; increase compliance with corporate Prevention of Involuntary Labor Standards among suppliers; and to develop a system for collecting lessons learned for easy adaptability and replication in other communities.

To achieve project objectives, Equal Access used strategic communications approaches employing both mass media and interpersonal techniques to educate target populations, empowering them with the knowledge and confidence to act as informed decision makers. The communications campaign included three main components: a radio talk show program broadcast on two rural radio stations, a radio PSA campaign that was broadcast on a major Medan-based radio station, and the distribution of printed educational materials supplied by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The final evaluation survey determined that 93-percent satisfaction rate with the radio program. The majority of listeners said that their favorite element of the radio program were the “interesting topics”, while others praised the guest speakers and the interactive format. Over 80-percent of listeners said that the talk show programs changed how they think about labor migration. 27-percent said that the program influenced their thinking about who to trust for overseas labor recruitment and 10-percent said that they better understood working requirements.