Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Medan manpower office probes agency 'confining' workers

National News - February 15, 2007
Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan

The North Sumatra Manpower Office has dispatched a team to investigate an employment agency suspected of violating child protection and manpower laws.

A number of would-be Indonesian migrant workers are allegedly being held by the owner of the agency, a police officer, at one of its transit locations.

Manpower office head Thoga M. Sitorus said something odd about the case had been detected and that further probing would be required. This especially regarded the ownership of the PT Sanjaya Putra Perkasa employment agency, where police conducted a raid on Feb. 12.

Thoga said he was surprised after learning the agency was owned by a police officer.

He added there was no law allowing police officers to run employment agencies engaged in sending migrant workers overseas.

"State officials and members of the police and military are not allowed to operate employment agencies. But it turns out that a dishonest member of the police force was running the business. We will find out how this happened," Thoga told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

An investigative team member, Jujur Sihombing, said that based on preliminary investigations the agency had been operating for two years and that it had not registered with the manpower office.

He said the team would coordinate with the City Manpower Office after finding several migrant workers' training certificates issued by the Medan Manpower Office at the transit location.

"We will trace the source of the ownership permit because in practice the agency is believed to have violated a number of rules, such as confining would-be migrant workers for months," Jujur said at the transit location on Jalan Adnan Benawi, Medan, on Tuesday.

North Sumatra Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Aspan Nainggolan said the police officer suspected of owning the employment agency had been arrested and was being interrogated.

"The suspect has violated Article 333 of the Criminal Code on seizing people's freedom, as well as laws on child protection and manpower," Aspan said.

Thoga said several employment agencies in the province were indicated to have violated rules when sending migrant workers abroad. Such violations included employing underaged workers.

"They should have sent those who had reached 18 years of age to work in factories and those over 21 to work as domestic maids. But in reality a number of employment agencies here have sent those who are still underage abroad," said Thoga, adding that 12 agencies have opened head offices and 65 branch offices in the province.

He said that his office would further investigate disputed employment agencies in the near future.



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