Many Indonesian domestic workers had not been paid in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Indonesian Embassy in Saudi Arabia has helped collected 40 billion rupiah (US$2.9 million) in unpaid salaries for Indonesian domestic workers.

Agus Maftuh, Indonesia’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said many Indonesian domestic workers were not getting paid by their employers because they were in the country illegally, Tempo reported.

The Indonesian government banned sending domestic workers to the Middle East in 2015 due to the large number of cases of abuse.

Maftuh said the embassy formed a ‘debt collection team’ that went to non-paying employers and collected the unpaid salaries of domestic workers. The embassy reportedly collected 40 billion rupiah in unpaid salaries.

In July last year, the largest unpaid salary the embassy collected from an employer was 580 million rupiah for a domestic worker who had not been paid for 22 years.

The maid, Sukmi bint Sardi Umar, left Indonesia in 1995 to work in Saudi Arabia. She was 18 at the time. Her employer never paid for her 22 years of service until the Indonesian embassy intervened. However, the maid was able to afford a plane ticket home.

Another Indonesian domestic worker, who left home in 1999, first worked for an Egyptian family in Saudi Arabia. The family then moved to England in 2001, where she continued to work illegally. She was unpaid for 18 years until being rescued by the Indonesian Embassy in London on April 5 and was repatriated to Indonesia.

Read: Maid unpaid by employer for 18 years finally goes home