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Taiwan opens to 1st wave of 1,700 Indonesian migrant workers today

1st batch of workers from Indonesia can enter from Nov. 11-23

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Indonesian Ministry of Manpower officials announce that Taiwan will open its borders to Indonesian migrant workers on Nov. 11.

Indonesian Ministry of Manpower officials announce that Taiwan will open its borders to Indonesian migrant workers on Nov. 11. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After a nearly year-old ban on Indonesian migrant workers, Taiwan on Thursday (Nov. 11) opened its borders to 1,700 laborers and caregivers from Indonesia.

On Wednesday (Nov. 10), the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower announced at a press conference that the first wave of Indonesian workers will be allowed to enter Taiwan from Nov. 11-23. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced that day that Indonesian workers will begin arriving this month, and quarantine facilities have been arranged for 1,700 people in anticipation of their arrival.

According to the Ministry of Manpower, 850 of these will work in factories and nursing homes, while 850 will serve as caregivers.

Due to a surge of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia last year, the entry of migrant workers from the country was halted on Dec. 4, 2020. However, as cases have begun to ease, the MOL on Nov. 1 proposed a plan in which migrant workers would be allowed into Taiwan this month based on a points system.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, MOL Workforce Development Agency Director-General Tsai Meng-liang (蔡孟良) stated that Taiwanese and Indonesian authorities had held an online meeting on the preparations for opening the borders to workers. Tsai said the formal implementation plan will be reported to the CECC as soon as possible and predicted that Indonesian workers can begin entering the country as early as this week.

At a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday, Benny Rhamdani, head of the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BP2MI), said that since the ban on Indonesian migrant workers was imposed, 12,730 have registered to work in Taiwan. Of these, caregivers comprise the largest group with 6,204 workers, followed by 4,755 factory laborers and 988 fishery workers.

One of the main reasons given for the ban imposed on Indonesian workers last December was that many were providing documents claiming they had tested negative for COVID but were testing positive upon arrival in Taiwan. Since the ban went into effect, Taiwan has requested that Indonesia improve its epidemic prevention measures, while the Indonesian side pressed for implementation of a "zero placement fee policy."

With the recent slowdown in COVID cases in Indonesia, the two countries have come to an agreement over epidemic prevention measures implemented by Indonesian labor brokers, migrant training centers, designated medical institutions, and laboratories that carry out testing. Meanwhile, according to the MOL, the "zero placement fee policy" will be revisited after the pandemic is over.

Due to Indonesia's relatively low weekly case numbers, workers from the country have been given the top priority for entry. The MOL has not yet commented on when migrant workers from other countries, such as the Philippines, will be allowed in.

Migrant workers wishing to enter Taiwan have a very small window of opportunity due to an expected influx of at least 40,000 Taiwanese returning from overseas for the Lunar New Year holiday. The ban on migrant workers is set to be reimposed from Dec. 14 to Feb. 14 to make way for returning Taiwanese.