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2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Indonesia

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 8 June 2011
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Indonesia, 8 June 2011, available at: [accessed 20 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 230,000,000
Capital: Jakarta
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The prevailing issues are anti-union discrimination, with employers forming yellow unions, refusing to recognise unions, dismissing union officers and/or filing criminal charges against union activists; and refusing to negotiate in good faith with unions, or even ignoring agreements. Also, massive violations of the law pertaining to contract labour and outsourcing took place and discrimination against women is still common, and women are still fired when they become pregnant. Most employers that hire contingent workers are doing so in violation of the law.


Despite initial guarantees, trade union rights are not adequately secured in law. Although private sector workers are free to form unions, in order to register, a union must represent or receive the support of more than 50% of the total workforce in the establishment. Unions must also keep the government informed of changes in their governing bodies, and failure to do so can result in the loss of official recognition. A court can dissolve a union if its basic principles conflict with the Constitution or "Pancasila", the national ideology which puts emphasis on consensus and national unity. Once a union is dissolved, its leaders are not allowed to form another one for three years. Furthermore, while the right to bargaining is recognised, all collective agreements must be concluded within 30 days after the beginning of negotiations or be submitted for mediation, conciliation or arbitration.

The right to strike is seriously circumscribed by the fact all strikes must be preceded by a lengthy and cumbersome mediation/conciliation procedure, and a lawful strike can only be called as "a result of failed negotiations". Failure is classified as a deadlock "that is declared by both sides", which gives the employers unilateral power to stop a strike. Strikes are also banned in "enterprises that cater to the interest of the general public" and in "essential services", but the types of enterprises covered are not specified, leaving it to the government's discretion to decide on a case-by-case basis.


Background: New allegations of security force involvement in torture emerged in 2010. The military consistently shielded its officers from investigations, and the government made little effort to hold them accountable. The government did little to curb discrimination against and attacks on religious, sexual, and ethnic minorities. Authorities continued to invoke harsh laws criminalising those who raise controversial issues. Indonesia has imprisoned more than 100 activists from the Moluccas and Papua for "rebellion" for peacefully voicing political views, holding demonstrations, and raising separatist flags. Indonesia's criminal libel, slander and "insult" laws prohibit the deliberate "insulting" of public officials and intentionally publicising statements that harm another person's reputation, even if the statements are true.

Contract labour increasing: On 23 December, Indonesian Prosperous Labour Union (KSBSI) Chairman Rekson Silaban said outsourcing and the contract system had sharply reduced the number of permanent workers in the country from 67% of the total formal labour workforce in 2005 to only 35% this year, citing reports from the World Bank and the ILO. Rekson said outsourcing would continue to hamper industrial relations if no legal solutions were made to address the problem. On 1 February, 500 contract workers from PT Jakarta International Container Terminal (JICT) staged a protest before the main gate of Tanjung Priok Port, North Jakarta, to demand permanent employee status. "We have been working at the firm's main division for 15 to 20 years, but we have yet to be made permanent employees," said Sutimanto, Chairman of the JICT contract worker association. The labour law bans a company from using contract workers at its main division, Sutimanto added. Contract workers earn IDR 1.3 million (USD 140) a month, 10% of the wages earned by a permanent worker.

Child labour still widespread: A survey released on 11 February reported that an estimated four million children in the country were in wage employment with 1.76 million working long hours, some for more than 40 hours a week. The survey, conducted by the National Statistics Agency (BPS) and the ILO, showed that of the total number of children aged 5 to 17, about 58.8 million, 4.05 million were reported as children in employment. "The term 'children in employment' refers to children aged 10 to 17 who are considered as employed by the standard definition," the report states.

Workers win court battle, successfully conclude agreements: Workers secured better conditions in terms of wage increases and recognition of their unions in different sectors during the year. On May 14, the International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF) affiliate, Federation of Indonesian Metalworkers Union (FSPMI), won a major court battle involving the bankruptcy filing of PT Kymco Lippo Motor Indonesia. The Special Regional Court ruled that the company's moveable and immoveable assets, including land and buildings, be auctioned off to pay wages owed to the workers. In the garment sector, after a three-year campaign, the Indonesian garment factory PT Mulia Knitting Factory signed an agreement with SBGTS union affiliated with the Gabungan Serikat Buruh Indonesia (GSBI – Federation of Indonesian Trade Unions) in May. The agreement recognises SBGTS as the representative of their members at PT Mulia and provides compensation for five former employees who were dismissed in 2007 as a result of their union membership. And in January, the International Union of Food (IUF) affiliate, Kirin Miwon Foods Workers Union (SPKMF), requested to start negotiations with Kirin Miwon Foods (Kirin). Kirin initially refused to negotiate with SPKMF and refused to provide SPKMF with information relevant to the bargaining process. However, in late May SPKMF successfully concluded negotiations with substantial increases in wages and benefits.

Dismissal of union leaders: On 14 June, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) protested the recent dismissal of seven PT Kayan Putera Utama Coal Union leaders by PT Kayan Putera Utama Coal at its Desa Separi mine near Tenggarong in the Kalimantan Timur coal fields.

Dismissal for union activity: Muhamad Husen is a member of the Framas Plastic Technology (FPT) Ltd union and works at the German-owned company in Jakarta. On 23 July, Husan questioned FPT company officials about a leaflet being distributed by company supervisors that called on FPT union members to stop paying union dues. When Husen asked who was responsible for the distribution of the flyer, the only response was that "it came from the top." Because the company would not tell him who was responsible, he referred to company officials as "cowards". The company dismissed Mr. Husen from his job on 30 July without providing any reason.

Strike for back wages: Over a thousand workers of PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara (PT NNT), a subsidiary of US mining company Newmont Mining Corporation, went on strike on 1 August over a dispute on the payment of back wages for overtime and demands for improved work schedules. The workers are represented by Ketua Serikat Pekerja Indonesia (KSPSI), Pelaksana Unit Kegiatan (PUK) and PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara (KSPSI-PUK-PTNNT). The workers demand for the payment of overtime pay was based on a ruling by the Regional Workforce and Transmigration Office of West Nusa Tenggara issued last June. The ruling ordered PT NNT to pay IDR126 billion (USD13.8 million) in overtime wages, some of which has been outstanding since June 2008, to 1,919 employees. PT NNT, however, refused to comply with the order and said it would appeal the issue to court. On 6 August KSPSI-PUK-PTNNT withdrew its strike after reaching an agreement with PT NNT to settle their dispute over overtime pay in court. PT NNT operates the Batu Hijau copper and gold mine in West Sumbawa and employs approximately 7,000 permanent and contractual workers.

Union members dismissed for striking: Beginning on 24 June, PT Oceanias Timber Products (PT OTP) unilaterally changed the policy on annual, maternity and menstruation leave. PT OTP workers, represented by the Federation of Wood, Forestry and Agriculture Union (PKF-Hukatan) Affiliated to Confederation of Indonesia, objected to the change and informed the company that the changes violated labour laws. As tensions on the leave issue heightened, PT OPT informed workers on 15 July that anyone who engaged in a strike against the company would be considered to have resigned. When workers called off the strike on 19 July, PT OPT conditioned the workers' return to work on signing a letter of apology. PT OPT also subjected union workers to various forms of discrimination and retaliation for engaging in the strike. PT OPT made false allegations of theft against union member Ms. Lisnawata on 21 July. On 20 August, PT OTP laid off Ms. Lisnawata and three other union members. The case was pending at the time the report was released.

Violence against workers: In Tengarang City at the PT Panarub Industry (PI) factory, dozens of striking SBGTS-GSBI Panarub Industry members were injured on 2 September when police and company goons attacked the strikers using tear gas and firing warning shots. One of the injured was SBGTS Board member Turi Dahlia. PI workers have been on strike since 31 August to protest PI's decision to give only five days of Ramadan holiday and the elimination of the religious holiday allowance. SBGTSGSBI Board member Sari Idayani said that PI's actions are in violation of the religious holiday allowance provisions in Ministerial Decree number 04/1994. The PI factory employs 11,000 workers, mostly females, and produces shoes for Adidas.

Union leader arrested: On 9 December, Nurimah, Chair of the SP Kahutindo (Indonesian Forestry and Allied Workers' Union), the union that represents workers at PT San Yu Frame Moulding Industries (San Yu), was arrested and detained at the Women's State Prison in Bulu, Semarang. Nurimah was arrested on charges related to the alleged assault on a fellow worker in 2006. The union claims that the charges have been fabricated by San Yu in an attempt to disrupt negotiations and intimidate the union. This incident is part of a series of acts by San Yu that started on 12 January to intimidate the union and its leaders, which included the San Yu's establishment of a company dominated union.

Employers attempt to bust unions, create yellow unions: Hundreds of workers demonstrated outside PT Sumi Indo Wiring System in Purwakarta, West Java, after the company dismissed and suspended workers in retaliation for their union activities. Workers were attempting to organise the factory with Federasi Serikat Pekerja Metal Indonesia (FSPMI). The company emphasises that the workers are already organised under the Konfederasi Serikat Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia (All-Indonesia Union of Workers – KSPSI) and claims that the workers were not dismissed for organising a new union, but rather for using company letterhead to distribute information about FSPMI.

The PLN Workers' Union (PLNWU), whose members work for PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), a state-owned electric utility, filed a criminal complaint with the National Police against the PLN's board of directors on 26 July over claims of union-busting. The complaint alleges that PLN President Director Dahlan Iskan withdrew previously enjoyed employee benefits and reassigned and dismissed several union members who had publicly opposed the firm's decision to increase electricity rates. The board also established a new trade union.

Beginning on 31 August, officials of the New Zealand International School (KFNZIS) in Jakarta began a series of acts to harass and intimidate school employees after they joined the Federation of Education Training and Public Service Union (FESDIKARI – KSBSI). School officials interrogated union members about the reasons they joined the union, telling school employees that their grievances would only be heard if they resigned from the union. The union's Chairman, Ignatia Widhiharsanto, was harassed, as was the union's Vice-chairman, Ahmad Safatila. And renewal of the employment of the union's Treasurer, Ms. Mujiyati, employment was made conditional on her resignation from the union. KFNZIS culminated its actions to bust the union when it dismissed the union's Chairman and Vice-Chairman on 30 September. The case was ongoing at the time of this report.

Agreements ignored: On 21 January, Itje Julinar, President of Public Services International (PSI) affiliate Serikat Pekerja Angkasa Pura I (SP AP 1 – Airport Services Workers Union), called on State-owned Enterprises (SOE) Minister Mustafa Abubakar to settle unresolved industrial disputes with the union to prevent a strike. According to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) signed on 1 June 2006, state-owned PT Angkasa Pura (AP), which manages all airports nationwide, agreed to adopt the same pay scale enjoyed by other civil servants, provide pension benefits based on the workers' last salaries and offer healthcare schemes for retired workers. None of the provisions had been implemented. On 12 August, PSI welcomed the news from SP AP 1 – Airport Services Workers Union that the long-running industrial dispute was nearing an end, following the appointment of a new Board of Directors to the State Owned Enterprise Angkasa Pura 1 (AP1).

On 28 July, 800 dockworkers, led by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF)-affiliated Serikat Pekerja Terminal Petikemas Koja (SPTPK Koja), the seafarers' union Kesatuan Pelaut Indonesia and other unions demonstrated outside government offices in Jakarta. The unions demanded that Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) and state company Pelindo 2, which jointly own the TPK Koja container terminal, implement the terms of a four-point settlement that was negotiated in April 2009.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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