Although Indonesian migrants travel overseas to seek better job opportunities, it is without doubt that there will be challenges and setbacks along the way. Prior to the pandemic, first-time migrant workers had found it hard to find and maintain basic necessities such as accommodation, food and proper healthcare. In 2016, Malaysia had removed subsidies for migrant workers to access public healthcare. Given that migrant workers mostly rely on public healthcare, there has been a decline in demand, quality and access to proper healthcare due to the increase in prices. Not only documented migrants had been affected but undocumented migrant workershad gotten it even worse as they are only able to seek to private health care institutions.
Apart from basic necessities, Indonesian migrants are in a constant culture shock inthe workplace, posing a big hurdle when it comes to competing with other employees in the country. As a result, migrants may take a longer time to settle in, which may reveal a decline in income in the earlier months.
Additional Challenges During the PandemicMany employees, including migrant workers especially undocumented had lost their source of income. Due to the slowed economy in the country, businesses were forced to lay off workers in order to sustain, which had troubled workers who’d lived paycheck to paycheck. As a result, they can’t pay for their basic necessities including food, accommodation, clothing and even healthcare, unless they have tested positive for COVID-19 to which the government had opted to cover their quarantine and care. This is even worse to those who are not in the essential-services industry during lockdowns as the government had only allowed certain businesses to operate.
When challenged with constant lockdowns and a loss of income, migrant workers are in ceaseless search for new job opportunities. However, lockdowns in the form of MCOs have limited mobility all over the nation making it hard for migrants to travel to get their food and healthcare, let alone to search for new work available. With limited mobility, migrants are also finding it difficult to have access to the banking sector that they intend to transfer their remaining income to their families.
Many migrants all over the country had voiced their struggles and desired to return to their home country, however had yet again been posed with the challenge of lack of information. Due to the language barrier and lack of access, migrants often find themselves late in retrieving important information about lockdowns and travel bans.
Although challenges have been seen to have heightened over the past months due to the pandemic, as the economy is continually improving, there is hope that migrants all over the country will be able to seek out new and better job opportunities, with easier access to basic necessities including proper healthcare.