Monday, October 09, 2006

Calls rise for Jamsostek chief's dismissal

National News - October 04, 2006
Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The management of state-owned workers' insurance firm PT Jamsostek is coming under increasing fire from its union members for its decision to demote 12 outspoken unionists and senior staff officials.

The latest protests came from workers at Jamostek's branch offices in Lampung, South Sumatra, and Riau, which sent a joint letter Monday condemning the company's management.

The provincial branches of the Jamsostek Workers Union (SPJ) demanded the company annul the decision and threatened to take the case to the Jakarta Administrative Court if the company did not do so.

"The move to demote and transfer the senior staff officials and isolate the unionists is against Law No. 21/2000 on labor unions and the collective labor agreement between the management and the workers," Mairiwan Ekaputra, the SPJ leader overseeing the southern part of Sumatra, said Tuesday.

He urged the government to take rapid action to replace Jamsostek president director Iwan P. Pontjowinoto following mounting demands from protesting workers.

The situation arose after Jamostek union members filed in July a no-confidence motion against the company's management with the government and the House of Representatives. It followed the management's decisions to appoint two private companies as brokers in the investment of its Rp 36 trillion in assets and promote certain officials close to Iwan to strategic positions, amid graft allegations in an IT project.

In response, Iwan demoted or transferred two unionists and 10 senior officials who had supported the petition to remote branch offices, including those in North Sumatra, West Nusa Tenggara and Kalimantan.

Last week, 40 Jamsostek workers from Banten and West Java joined the chorus of opposition against the management at a protest at the company's headquarters in Jakarta. They demanded the transfers and dismissals being revoked, including the transfer of union leader Janaedi, who was sent to South Kalimantan.

SPJ chairman Abdul Latief said he would sue the management in the labor court, while workers affected would bring their case to the Jakarta Administrative Court.

"Jamsostek is not a kingdom where the management can hold lavish parties every day and drive away dissident citizens. It belongs to the workers and its huge assets must be safeguarded from thieves," he said.

The no-confidence motion won support from lawmakers and Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno, who called for the sweeping reform of Jamostek's social security programs and the replacement of its directors.

Lawmakers have asked the government to intervene and dismissed Jamostek's chief.

Jamostek's management, however, has defended the demotions and transfers, saying they were aimed at refreshing the organization and were in line with 1995 Limited Corporation Law.

"The recent shifting of several employees is not against the law or the company's statutes and collective labor agreement, which authorize the management, not the government nor the board of commissioners, to promote or demote any personnel in the company," Jamsostek spokesman Basuki Siswanto said.

He said the management would not respond to the no-confidence motion because it was filed with State Minister for State Enterprises Sugiarto, who has the authority to replace the management.

Jamsostek, established in 1992 to carry out social security programs for workers, has been widely accused of serving as a cash-cow for corrupt government officials and political parties since former president Soeharto's era.


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