Sunday, October 01, 2006

Unionists say employers ignore, abuse social security programs

National News - September 27, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Major labor organizations are protesting what they call rampant violations of the law on social security programs by employers, as well as alleged dismissals of unionists for protecting workers.

The complaints were filed with Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno, said the chairman of the Indonesian Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), Bambang Wirahyoso, on Tuesday.

Bambang said many ICTU unionists in Bandung, West Java, and Tangerang, Banten, had been dismissed for fighting for labor protections in their workplaces.

He added that many have brought their cases to labor courts in the two provinces, accusing the managements of taking unilateral action by demoting or dismissing them for unclear reasons.

"Most unionists won their cases but many of them had to quit their jobs because of disharmonious industrial relations in their workplace," Bambang said after signing a memorandum of understanding with state-owned labor insurance firm PT Jamsostek.

He pointed out that in implementing the social security law, many employers did not register all their workers with Jamsostek or reported only part of their workers' salaries in an attempt to reduce the amount the companies had to pay into the programs.

"Both Jamsostek and the government have frequently detected such violations but they appear reluctant to enforce the law. Meanwhile most labor inspectors in the field turn a blind eye to the infractions after taking bribes from the employers," he said.

The 1992 law requires companies employing 10 people or more to register them with Jamsostek. Workers and their employers pay 11 percent to 13.7 percent of their gross monthly salaries as premiums in the healthcare, death aid, occupational accidental benefit and pension benefit programs.

The deputy chairman of the Confederation of All-Indonesian Workers Union (KSPSI), Syukur Sarto, said only 30 percent of the workers employed in the formal sector were registered with the social security programs.

The KSPSI had to suspend its cooperation with Jamsostek in registering all of its members with the company because of difficulties gaining access to all of its unionists in the field, he added.

Data released in June by Jamsostek shows that of 24 million workers registered with Jamsostek, only 7.6 million are active, and it is believed most them have had only part of their salaries reported.

Rekson Silaban, who chairs the Confederation of Indonesian Prosperous Labor Unions (KSBSI), said his organization also suspended the memorandum of understanding it signed with Jamsostek in July because of technical hurdles in the field.

"We also understand most employers are facing economic difficulties, making them unable to contribute to the social security programs," he said.

The secretary-general of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) said most small- and medium-sized companies are facing economic hurdles to participating in the social security programs because of the prolonged fiscal crisis.

"Many labor-intensive companies have stopped operations or 'rationalized' their staffs due to the ailing global market. Now, we are striving to survive. It would be unwise for the government to force ailing companies to register their workers with Jamsostek," he said.

Manpower minister Erman Suparno said law enforcement was one of several high-priority issues in the government's plan to reform the social security programs.

"Workers need protection and job security but ailing companies cannot be forced to take part in the social security programs amid the continued economic crisis," he said.


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