Bank Indonesia is closely supervising a microcredit bank, or BPR, in Probolinggo, East Java, following the latter's threat to dismiss one of its workers for wearing a headscarf (jilbab).
The management of the BPR Angga Perkasa had reportedly threatened to fire 36-year-old worker Tantry Wijiastuti, unless she removed her jilbab at work.
The deputy head of banking supervision at the Malang branch of Bank Indonesia, Laksono Dwionggo, said the central bank, as the banking regulator, was supervising the BPR to ensure it would not enforce such a religiously discriminatory policy.
"We will put them under close supervision for a month. I will go there to hold talks with other employees in the near future," Laksono said in Malang, East Java, on Wednesday. The Malang BI branch has taken the initiative to become a mediator in the dispute between the BPR management and Tantry, who has been a full-fledged employee at the bank for the past 14 years.
"The bank management should have been responsive toward the social conditions of the community in Probolinggo, who are mainly Muslim and very religious.
"So, the bank management's reason that wearing a headscarf would have an impact on business is groundless," said Laksono.
He said both parties had been at loggerheads, but they eventually reached a five-point agreement in a meeting mediated by the central bank on Tuesday. One of the points was that the BPR has allowed bank employees to wear Muslim attire, including headscarves, to work. The management also ensured that all employees, including Tantry, would feel at ease working at the bank following the incident.
The BPR was represented by its chief commissioner Subakri and commissioner Gatot D.S., president director Angga Surya Wijaya, director Anis Ichtiarti and branch manager Dwi Indrawati. Tantry's husband Dwi Santoso and her father Basuki were also in attendance.
Tantry, a marketing staffer at the bank, filed a complaint last week to the head of the Probolinggo chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI). She complained she would be dismissed from her job, just because she wore a headscarf to work. The issue came into the public spotlight after she reported her case to the media.
The BPR management denied it had dismissed Tantry, as it had yet to issue any dismissal letter. However, the company admitted to having appealed to Tantry to remove her jilbab at work, but denied forbiding her from wearing it.
At a meeting with the Probolinggo legislative council Thursday, the BPR management apologized to the public over the jilbab issue and assured that Tantry would continue working for the company.
Laksono said the branch encouraged BPR employees to air their grievances and provide input. "Everyone is free to convey their grievances so BI can take immediate action," said Laksono, adding the case was the first of its kind within the BI Malang domain and hoped there would be no recurrence. He asked every bank not to enforce unfair rules on employees.