Labor Unions

Aug 15th, 2007, in Business & Economy, by

Indonesian labor unions are too militant.

Jusuf Kalla, whose job as vice president seems to consist in him going about the country opening conferences, is rarely lost for words on any subject, and in contrast to the platitudes of president Yudhoyono, nearly always manages to say something interesting. He did so again on 9th August after meeting leaders of the Confederation of the SPSI (Serikat Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia, All Indonesian Working Peoples' Union).

Jusuf Kalla
Jusuf Kalla, fount of wisdom.

In the hopes that Indonesia would be able to attract more foreign investment Kalla advised the representatives of the workers to cut back on the radicalism front, and reduce the number of their protests and demonstrations. The demos often ended violently, he said, and caused foreign investors to often ask Kalla whether the law was upheld properly in Indonesia.

Storming the gates
Storming the gates.

Head of the SPSI, Syukur Sarto, answered Kalla that demonstrations were caused by workers' fears of losing their jobs, and hoped that regional agencies could be set up to oversee issues of employment and job loss. mediaindo


16 Comments on “Labor Unions”

  1. avatar Sylvester says:

    Head of the SPSI, Syukur Sarto, answered Kalla that demonstrations were caused by workers’ fears of losing their jobs, and hoped that regional agencies could be set up to oversee issues of employment and job loss.

    SPSI is right. There is no law to protect labors in Indo.
    However, on the other hand there is also a problem with the indon worker mentality. Many of them are lazy.

  2. avatar Arema says:

    JK has a very good point there… workers in Indonesia often think they’re the BOSS. Big companies simply can’t allow strike(s) and shutdown(s) disrupting their schedule, because a day, or even an hour(!) lost can cost millions of dollars!

    I personally think that employees in Indonesia often took the violent path to solve problems, and not opening a discussion. They didn’t put themselves in the employer’s shoes and observe from the other point of view, but only forcing what they want, often blindly.

    If I’m a foreign employer / investor, I’d be happy to consider setting up a company in Indonesia because I can save a lot of cost there, and also the huge market. But if I know that my company had 10% chance of instability, uncontrollable labor, strikes, or worse, burned, I’d rather not. Remember that Indonesian workers are among the least skilled compared to their SE Asian counterparts and India, but ranked high as potential trouble-makers.

    Without a solid foundation, a company will have difficult time moving forward. And one of those foundation is dependable and loyal employees.

  3. avatar Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    Friends, all works and no play makes Ali a dull boy.

  4. avatar Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    And, All play and no prayer makes Achmad an unclean man.

  5. avatar Pena Budaya says:

    The problem is that government is still depending on Foreign direct investment so much. This type of investment can go easily at anytime to anyplace when there is lower offer of production cost. And, the lower production cost that is being offered very much often creating other social problems such as the sweatshops, child labour, feminization of work that mostly neglected the fundamental rights at workplace.

    We should be happy that trade unions/ labour unions in Indonesia keep active and reminding us of the problems that still suffered by most working class. Currently the trade unions’ activities in Indonesia are not widely published in the headline of newspaper in Europe. Mostly headlines in Europe nowadays about terrorism, Islam fundamentalism movement in Indonesia, corruption, stupid bill like Anti Pornography Action, and of course: flood, floods, floods…

    How come Indonesia will ever attract foreign investments if almost all areas in the capital city is flooded for days???

  6. avatar KSJ says:

    It is time for the Indonesian government to improve the labor conditions in Indonesia so that no foregin investors would be needed in the future. Let’s stand on our own feet. Those foreign companies will stay in Indonesia as long as the labor cost is low and unskilled workers are abundant. Otherwise, they will move out to another country. We should not depend too much on foreign companies to provide us jobs, we should create them ourselves and for our people.

  7. avatar Falcon says:

    The head of SPI is afraid workers of loosing jobs?. He must understand that the law demand and supply ruled the labor force. Too many workers fighting for the same bowl of rice. If we can export 50% of of all the workers maybe the head of SPI should not worry that his workers are losing jobs. You fire 1000 workers today, 5000 applicants will appear for the job tomorrow. If you have just enough and productive workers, employers will take care of their employees better.

    As long there is an oversupply of laborers with low skill, nothing will change and we all should be reminded that workers in large force can easily provoked when even their voice is not heard. Maybe the law is unfavorable while the work force is too destructive that no one wants to invest here. The world need not to be reminded that Indonesia is considered as a low priority country for investment despite all its potential.

    When counting all the cost of employing workers and the inefficiencies which are considered high already, any disruption of the work activity because of demonstration will add-up and will likely to cost more compare to other nearby countries. In additions the current social cost maintaining workers in the long run is exorbitantly expensive.

    Indonesia will never solve its labor problem, unless the labor supply is drastically reduced (pessimistic), and the existing labor law abolish and replace with labor insurance beside the existing Social insurance. So in the eye of the employers, any worker(s) not complying with the company policy can be fired (without demonstration) however has the right to have his case reviewed by the labor judicial review. The insurance will pay for all the related cost and reinstatement is done when wrong doing is not found

    If the head of SPI is afraid that workers might lose jobs, he must be equally convince that corporations will and can continue to operate as a going business concern. A corporation is considered as a going concern, not a stop and go concern.. There is a need to understand that new investment has a muliple effect thus more new business will follow.

    At this moment having a job is a priority at any cost and anything else is less important. Look, some many are people hanging around the streets doing nothing or very little to do. What is the point of having a favorable law when the unemployment is extremely high. The priority mus be set. The politicians are filibusters, they have all the time in the world for doing nothing and still get paid handsomely

    Indonesia should not be famous for its constant demonstration at the center of town and created all sorts of traffic jams and commotions. May be an open field of 20 hectares or more and at each provinces is set aside, far away from the city where demonstration can take place without any anarchy and not disrupting the already crowded city and burdening additional unnecessary expenses to other activities business or not.

  8. avatar Sputjam says:

    Malay types do not understand economics. In bintan and batam, foreign investors closed plants because local government started local taxes which is too much.
    Malay workers comes to work whenever they like. No inhibition on the repercussion that they may cost in terms of down time or delays.
    To improve employment rate, I suggest government start the ball rolling by spending money in infrastructure projects, say Pan Java highway and railway.
    Hopefully in ten years time, Indonesian will be more knowledgeable in terms of work discipline.

  9. avatar Naga says:

    “Malay types do not understand economics. In bintan and batam, foreign investors closed plants because local government started local taxes which is too much.
    Malay workers comes to work whenever they like..”

    How true, until Malays accept the world does not OWE them a living, then their economic fortunes will never change.

    No country in the world can survive without FDI, this ridiculous notion that ‘we must stand on our own’ is pure fantasy and it is Indonesian employers who exploit Indonesian workers the most; foreign companies actually have to abide by rules imposed by the xenophobic govt as well as corporate governance principles from their own countries (unless they are Chinese, Indian or Arab).

    FDI helps this country, it is political and systemic corruption which is killing it, not foreigners…

  10. avatar Rommel Gaspar says:

    I am an expat teacher here in Jakarta. I’m a victim also other international schools who breach the labor law in Indonesia. But in still hoping that I can attain the justice here in jakarta.To the labor Unions here in Indonesia pls. help me and support for what I am encounter here right now. I will have my mediation this coming 29th of Jan,2008. More power to all of you.

  11. avatar Sagiputra says:

    I have read an opinion in Kompas written by Herry Priyono on Indonesian Future Leadership. He said, that Indonesian leaders (president and vice president) have to come from “inter-sectoral leadership”, not like Kalla (our present vice president) who just think from one side mindset, it is entrepreneurs side. It is clear from his statement on Indonesian Labor movement above. He never thinks or asks, why the workers’ demos often ended violently? I can understand his statement because he is an “entrepreneur vice president” not a “worker vice president”. I believe, Mr. Vice president will change his mindset, his words, and his action, if he just a day become a worker in Korean garment factory in Cakung Industrial bonded zone. The workers always “Kalah” in hand Mr. Kalla.

  12. avatar Brian Timlick says:

    In terms of economics, it must be understod that workers must make a wage that allows for them to spend to create more economic activity. Forming a labour union is a Human Right and empowers workers and the economy. The better workers are off in pay, the more money they have to buy houses, cars, eat out in restaurants, go to university etc. That builds even more employment.

  13. avatar Brian Timlick says:

    Very few business people will admit it, but the labour portion of their business is really financed by the worker. The worker comes into a company and supplies labour which adds value to the raw material or to the service. The worker is paid later out of the value he has added. Since the worker has paid for his own food, food necessary to do the work, he must be paid a wage that at least allows him to purchase more food for the next pay period. If he is paid a wage that is exactly the same as his food costs, he is breaking even on the work. This is important ot realize this because it raises the importance of the worker in everyone’s eyes. The worker has used his money to invest in food that fueled the company’s business, or the worker has helped to finance the company. Without that worker’s help in financing, the company would have to pay for the worker’s food before he did the work, which is not now the case. The worker, as an investor, should expect a return on his investment and be treated with respect.

    Workers need employment as much as employers need workers. The relationship between the two should be that of equals. Since the employer acts as a collective, in that management acts as a team, and the employee acts as a single person, there is little chance of the employee having equality when it comes to bargaining power and wages. The employee only can act as equal when he acts with other employees as a collective too. This is where forming a union creates equality. That equality builds buying power and helps the economy.

  14. avatar Ratna Sarika says:

    I agree with someone just saying the mentality of Indonesia workers is lazy.
    That is right. Even the officer show some lazy part. That is show up also in house of representative. Member of parlement sleeping during the president speech.
    So.
    When they strike, they make sure the factory will have some loss. Some manufacturing like plastic makers that need workers to lookup 24 hours. They strike, they will make sure the factory will have some big loss.
    Beside their strike will become histeric and make the machine broke and throw stone to the window.
    That is their behaviour.

    I personally in there when they strike. The horrible thinking of the workers in Indonesia is the worst in the world. Lack of morality, lack of sklil and also strike . That some part of democratic problem.

  15. avatar Galahad says:

    Don’t say indonesian workers are Lazy. Lazyness will naturally dissapear under company’s strict supervision. They’re just feeling unsecure about their mönthly food consumption as their wages may last within the tenth day of the months. To many businessmen running this state, as executors or legislators. No wonder whatever regulation they issue, it is never intended to afford labors better life quality. Instead, investors welfare security will always take the lead.

  16. avatar Fuad says:

    Selama ini para Pengusaha merasa alergi terhadap serikat pekerja, karena di anggap serikat pekerja identik dengan Demo,sehingga dianggap sebagai dalang prvokasi dalam menggelar demonstrasi yang menimbulkan kerugian bagi prusahaan, pandangan inilah yang harus kita rubah kita harus berusaha meyakinkan para pengusaha bahwa serikat pekerja merupakan Mitra bagi para pengusaha dalam menciptakan suasana yang kondusif , harmonis sehingga terciptalah ketenangan dalam bekerja dan berusaha yang pada giliranya dapat meningkatkan productifitas kerja demi kemajuan prusahaan di tempat kerja kita, Serikat pekerja juga sebagai kontrol dalam penegkan peraturan2 perundang-undangan ketenaga kerjaan dan penerapan peraturan perusahaan yang di tuangkan dalam perjanjian kerja Bersama,jadi peran serikat pekerja berdiri pada aturan perundangan yang berlaku sehingga hal ini dapat benar2 dipahami oleh para anggota serikat pekerja itu sendiri maupun pihak pengusaha. Serikat tidak akan membela anggotanya yang melakukan pelanggaran yang telah di sepakati sebagai konsekwensi dalam penerapan disiplin di dalam perusahaan dengan demikian kita dapat mewujudkan peran serikat pekerja sebagai Mitra bagi pengusaha dalam menciptakan hubungan kerja yang profesional dan terukur. Hal inilah yang sekarang kami bangun di kawasan industri tanjung uncang dan sekupang pulau batam sehingga kami dapat menjalin kerja sama dengan pengusaha industri yang tergabung dalam BSOA (Batam Shipyard and Offsore Assosiation) dari semula hanya ada Tiga PUK yang aktif kini dalam kurun waktu satu tahun terahir semenjak kami melakukan Reoarganisasi kepengurusan DPC SP LEM SPSI Tjg Uncang Sekupang kini telah terbentuk enam PUK baru yang bergabung.

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