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26 May 2021

Jeffrey Hutton, The Straits Times

Indonesia: Chinese migrant workers unable to return home languish for months in Jakarta airport hotels

"'Desperate' workers from China languish for months in Jakarta airport hotels" 26 May 2022

When Mr Wei agreed to take a management role at a nickel smelting project in South-east Sulawesi, in Indonesia, in early 2020, his company promised that after six months of working seven days a week, it would pay for him to return to his family in Jiangsu, China, to spend a few days with them.

It did not happen.

Instead, as China all but cut itself off amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the 55-year-old said he continued working without a day off, earning 15,000 yuan (S$3,100) a month until he and 200 others quit in October in protest against the lack of holiday time. [...]

A review of WeChat messaging groups provided by three OSS workers now housed in two airport hotels suggests there are at least 51 Chinese workers trying to get home. The workers said the chat group has been discontinued at the urging of the Chinese embassy in Jakarta.

OSS did not respond to a request for comment written in Chinese, English and Indonesian that was hand delivered to its office in Jakarta.

A call seeking comment from Jiangsu Delong Nickel was directed to a man who confirmed workers for the company were waiting in Jakarta for flights to China and that the workers were under the auspices of China's embassy in Jakarta.

The official said that the workers were waiting in Jakarta because flights to China were unavailable. But an online search revealed that, though limited, direct flights from Jakarta to Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Fuzhou were available through early June.

Requests for comment to Chinese embassy officials were also unsuccessful. [...]