As labor unions suspend their five-day strike plans, the government needs to play an active role in a three-party dialogue involving employers and labor unions, which will discuss solutions to some labor issues, experts say.
“Instead of issuing counterproductive regulations, the government should facilitate a dialogue. It should empower employers and union leaders to seek solutions to the issues,” economist Payaman Simanjuntak
of the Jakarta-based Krisnadwipayana University who specializes in labor economy, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
On Wednesday, labor unions launched massive strikes in some major industrial areas in Jakarta and other cities.
Payaman, a former industrial relations and social security affairs director at the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, criticized the government for focusing on outsourcing rather than improving the welfare of the workers.
“Outsourcing is a technical issue. The government should not put it in details in the 2003 Workers Law. This is why the Constitutional Court recently ruled that the outsourcing and contract system are no longer binding,” he said.
Separately, economist Pande Radja Silalahi of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), emphasized that extensive outsourcing practices and low payment for workers affected the low quality of human resources. “At this moment, employers and labor unions have ... to agree on a mutual understanding regarding the current workers conditions and their problems,” he said.
According to him, if outsourcing practices were ceased the knock-on affect would be an increase in unemployment. Also, wage increases, if there were any, could only be met through the dismissal of numerous workers. “Union members should understand this,” he said.
Payaman said the government should review the law immediately and issue regulations on working conditions and workers protection.
“The law should allow companies to outsource some non-core positions to others. But the government must ensure that outsourcing companies comply with the Labor Law and respect workers’ rights as they are stipulated in the International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions.
“They would also have to pay their outsourced workers more than permanent ones due to the absence of job security,” he said.
Meanwhile, employers and labor unions said they were ready to attend negotiations to bridge their conflicting interests regarding these crucial issues.
Said Iqbal, chairman of the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Union (KSPI) which coordinated the national strike, said the strike had been suspended after Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa, and Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar facilitated a dialogue with employers and showed their good will to resolve the issues.
“The two ministers have agreed to limit outsourcing practice in five areas; security, cleaning services, supporting jobs in mining sites, catering and transportation,” he said, adding the negotiations would take place on Oct. 14.
Said also said that labor unions would propose a review of the new ministerial decree on decent pay to add 22 new elements to the 60 labor components.
Chairman of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) Sofjan Wanandi said the government should supervise the outsourcing practice closely and take actions against companies misusing it.
When asked to comment on workers pay, Sofjan said the government should made a separate remuneration system for large and small companies because of their financial capabilities.