Friday, October 06, 2006

Govt asked to end Jamsostek crisis

National News - October 02, 2006
Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Legislators have called on the government to intervene and end a labor conflict at state-owned workers' insurance company PT Jamsostek.

Ribka Tjiptaning, chairwoman of the labor commission at the House of Representatives, and Bomer Pasaribu of the Golkar Party faction, called on State Minister for State Enterprises Sugiharto to replace Iwan P. Pontjowinoto as Jamsostek's president director.

"Regardless of Iwan Pontjowinoto's role in the tension, the government should replace him and other members of the board of directors because their unpopular policies have only worsened the dispute.

"The tension has been increasing following the transfer and demotion of staff and union supporters who filed a motion of no-confidence (against the company's management)," Ribka said Sunday.

Jamsostek workers filed the motion with the government and the House in July in response to allegations of unwise investments and corruption in the company, which manages more than Rp 30 trillion (about US$3.3 billion) in workers' money. They were seeking the replacement of the company's board.

The government, however, dismissed the motion, in part because it feared that if successful the actions of the Jamsostek workers would be copied by employees at other state-owned companies.

Last week, two Jamsostek union members were transferred to out-of-the-way branch offices in North Sumatra and West Nusa Tenggara. The management also transferred the head of the Jamsostek office in southern Sumatra, Sardjan Lubis, to Kalimantan, and the head of the Banten office to Semarang, Central Java.

Sardjan is just one of 12 Jamsostek senior staff members who have been demoted or removed from their posts after supporting the no-confidence motion.

Last Friday, more than 40 workers at Jamsostek's branch office in Banten staged a demonstration at the company's main office in Jakarta, demanding the management cancel the demotions and transfers, and dismiss Iwan Pontjowinoto.

Bomer, a former manpower and transmigration minister, warned of the consequences if Jamsostek employees went ahead with a threat to call a national strike.

"The government should not drag its feet in resolving the labor dispute because it will only deepen the conflict, leading to a national strike that may complicate problems," he said.



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