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2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Indonesia

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 6 June 2012
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Indonesia, 6 June 2012, available at: [accessed 19 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: 239,000,000
Capital: Jakarta

ILO Core Conventions Ratified:

29 (Forced Labour (1930))
87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948))
98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949))
100 (Equal Remuneration for Work of Equal Value (1951))
105 (Abolition of Forced Labour (1957))
111 (Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (1958))
138 (Minimum Age for Employment (1973))
182 (Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (1999))

Reported Violations – 2012

Murders: 2
Injuries: 10

Documented violations – actual number of cases may be higher


Two workers were killed in West Papua when police open fire on striking workers at US-owned Freeport McMoran's Grasberg (FMG) gold and copper mine. Several cases of police assault against striking workers and arrest of union leaders were reported. Indonesian domestic workers – working at home and abroad – faced harsh working conditions. In law and in practice, the right to strike is nearly impossible to exercise.


Protection of basic trade union rights, improving working conditions, the establishment of a meaningful minimum wage, the use of contract and temporary labour to thwart union activity, and the implementation of a comprehensive national social security scheme were at the forefront of the issues addressed by Indonesia's unions. Despite the creation of nearly 4 million new jobs and the decrease of the unemployment rate, the lack of secure and decent jobs remain a major issue in the country. On 28 October, the Parliament passed the Social Security Providers Bill (BPJS), thus clearing the way for long-awaited pension, medical, job-related accident, unemployment and other benefits to millions Indonesians.

During 2011, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said it witnessed a deterioration of the human rights situation in Indonesia in terms of religious freedom, the role of the judiciary and accountability for violence by security forces.

Trade union rights in 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 that 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.

Link to additional detailed information regarding the legislation on the ITUC website here

In practice

Precarious work the new norm: According to the National Solidarity Committee (KSN), many Indonesian workers were forced to work in exploitative working conditions since most of them were contract-based with no social protection and job security. The number of permanent workers in the formal labour force fell from 67% in 2005 to only 35% in 2011. The government allows businesses to outsource or recruit workers on a contract basis to lure foreign investments. Trade unions are waging a campaign to revise Labour Law 13/2003 to improve regulation of contract and agency labour. Precarious work is particularly acute in the nation's numerous export processing zones (EPZs). It is estimated that 98% of workers in the EPZs on the island of Batam (home to 25 EPZs hosting 800 multinationals – mostly electronic manufacturing) are on contract or agency work. Some workers describe working on repeated three month contracts, then working for an agency and then brought back on a new short term contract – all to avoid workers from ever becoming permanent workers (workers employed for three years at the same company are entitled to permanent work). Workers face low wages (USD100 per month), long hours and in hazardous working conditions. On May Day and other times during the year, Indonesia's union members pressed the government to end contract labour and to implement the national social security system (SJSN). The workers' demands found unusual support when Indonesia's highest court found the country's President, Vice President, Head of Parliament and eight Ministers guilty of not implementing the law on Social Security (UU SJSN and RUU BPJS). The Court ordered the defendants to implement the Social Security law through the introduction of regulations for the formation of a National Social Security System.

Garment workers exploited: In April, the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF) released a report [An Overview of Working Conditions in Sportswear Factories in Indonesia, Sri Lanka & the Philippines] documenting the working conditions in 83 sportswear factories in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The report found that up to 85% of employees in the factories in Indonesia are employed on short term contracts or on a temporary basis. The report also noted that trade union officials in Indonesia are subjected to disparate workloads that are designed to prevent them from conducting union activities at lunch or after work. Other findings included: 1) Workers are frequently forced to work in excess of 100 hours overtime per month; 2) A factory locked 40 workers who failed to meet production targets in a small room, without water or ventilation, for three hours. Workers at the same factory were forced to work up to 160 hours overtime per month; and 3) At two factories in Indonesia workers would have to work 15-20 years to secure a loyalty bonus to make up for non-payment of the minimum wage. This bonus has never been paid to a worker.


Agreement to respect freedom of association signed at major garment suppliers factories: On 7 June, a historic agreement was signed by Indonesian textile, clothing and footwear unions, including International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation affiliates SPN and Garteks, major supplier factories, and the major sportswear brands, including Adidas, Nike and Puma, to ensure that freedom of association is respected.

Union succeeds in converting contract workers: In mid-August, PT Cussons Union that represents permanent and contract workers at PT Cussons (PTC) in Tangerang, Indonesia, successfully concluded negotiations and was able to convert 110 contract workers to permanents jobs. During negotiations PTC refused to extend dues check-off for contract workers and threatened to lay off 200 contract workers without making any severance payments. After two weeks of negotiations, the company reversed its decision and converted 110 of the 200 contract workers to permanent job.

Garment workers abused: According to an expose by the Associated Press (AP), workers making Nike's Converse brand shoes, often for as little as 50 cents an hour, alleged that supervisors regularly physically assaulted and verbally abused them. Nike admitted that abuses occurred but insists there was little it could do to stop it. One worker said she was kicked by her supervisor for making a mistake cutting rubber for soles. In another incident, 6 workers were made to stand in the hot sun for 2 hours for missing production quotas. Others were slapped, scratched or had shoes thrown at them. Some workers who protested the treatment were fired. An internal Nike report released to the Associated Press showed that roughly two-thirds of 168 factories making Converse products worldwide failed to meet Nike's standards for contract manufacturers.

Indonesian domestic workers abused and exploited: According to an International Labour Organisation survey, a majority of domestic helpers stated they had experienced some form of physical abuse, mental abuse, and indicated they had been sexually harassed. Ill treatment can be as simple as employers forcing house staff to work up to 20 hours a day and not giving them time to have a break during the day or have a day off from work. Thirty nine percent of the domestic workers in Java surveyed stated they were not allowed to take breaks during the day, while 55% said they did not get a day off during the week. On 14 February 2011, Amnesty International said that Indonesian domestic workers, the vast majority of them women and girls, will remain vulnerable to exploitation and abuse unless the country's parliament enacts a Domestic Workers' Law. Indonesia imposed a moratorium on sending workers to Saudi Arabia after Indonesian housemaid, Ruyati binti Saboti was beheaded for the alleged murder of her employer on 18 June 2011. In Saudi Arabia, there are 23 Indonesians, mostly migrant domestic workers, who face the threat of the death penalty. On 30 May, Indonesia and Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding that lifted a two-year ban on the sending of domestic workers to Malaysia. Indonesia implemented the ban following widely reported abuse of Indonesian workers in Malaysia.

Garment worker miscarries after police assault: A protester demanding her labour rights suffered a miscarriage due to police violence. On 6 May, Ms Iis Suparti, a worker at PT Micro Garment (PTMG) in Bandung who was part of a demonstration of 148 other PTMG workers at the company's factory to protest against PTMG labour rights violations. The protest was the latest of several protests by the factory employees to secure their rights. Despite the legal and peaceful nature of the protest, the Solokan Jeruk local sector police chief disrupted the demonstration when he grabbed the megaphone from Ms. Tri Rubiati Sanik, the Executive Chairman of the Joint Workers Struggle Solidarity Centre (Pusat Gabungan Solidariats Perjuangan Buruh – GSPB – the labour union), and threatened to arrest Ms. Sanik. In the scuffle that followed the police stuck and shoved Ms. Suparti causing her to fall. Mrs. Suparti, who was pregnant, was taken to the nearest hospital where she suffered a miscarriage.

Arrest of union officials and striking workers:

On 15 March, police arrested eight nurses and midwives in connection with their involvement in a strike at the Jayapura District Hospital in West Papua. The eight were charged under Articles 160 and 335.1 of Indonesia's criminal code for allegedly inciting their co-workers to take part in a strike. The eight women, Leni Ebe, Popi Mauri, Stevi Siahaya, Luthrinu, Siska Mandosir, Yolanda Inauri, Dolita Ataruri, and Imbenay, were detained at the criminal investigation unit of the Papuan police command. The status of those arrested was not known at the end of the year.

On 24 August, police arrested and remanded for 30 days FKUI Union Chairman Teuku Nantasyah (Nanta) at the Lafarge Cement Indonesia (PT.SAI-Lafarge) in Aceh on false charges of stealing rope from the company. Lafarge also dismissed Nanta in connection with the incident. The arrest followed Nanta's involvement in the struggle for workers' rights against Lafarge management officials and contractors for a number of months. Nanta was released from police custody on 21 September but he has not been reinstated to his job.

Struggle for union leader's reinstatement continues: Members of the Angkasa Pura 1 (AP1) union, affiliated to Public Services International (PSI), have continued their campaign to reinstate their union leader Arif Islam. All other union leaders who were dismissed by PT (Persero) Angkasa Pura 1 after union members went on strike at several of Indonesia's airports on 7-8 May 2008 have been reinstated.

Joy over Nestlé settlement with Panjang workers turns to nightmare of dismissals:

On 31 March, agreement was reached in a longstanding dispute that brings recognition and bargaining rights to the Union of Nestlé Indonesia Panjang Workers (SBNIP), affiliated to the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Association (IUF), at the Nescafé factory in Panjang. However the negotiations that ensued were difficult and eventually deadlocked over Nestlé's wage proposals. With negotiations at an impasse, SBNIP members went on a sitdown strike. Nescafé denouncing the strike as illegal and ordered people back to work.

On 5 October, the local Labour Department called SBNIP and Nestlé to mediation. In this mediation SBNIP agreed to end the strike at 1.00 pm the same day. A written agreement regarding the end of the strike and return to work was signed by Nestlé and the union and witnessed by the Labour Department. SBNIP members on the second shift reported for duty at 2:00PM and completed their shift. But when SBNIP members arrived for the third shift at 10.00 pm they were faced by a cordon of security guards at the factory gates, with riot police on standby inside the factory grounds. Security guards called out the names of union members, handed them "resignation" letters one by one and then sent them away. The same letters were also sent to their homes. Dozens of termination letters were issued on 6 October. The situation was unresolved at the end of the year.

Garuda pilots strike over pay discrimination: Workers at Indonesian airline PT Garuda, represented by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) affiliated Ikatan Awak Kabin Garuda Indonesia (IKAGI) have been denied their collective bargaining rights since 2009. Garuda has unilaterally imposed new regulations and intimidated union members and members of the executive board. On 28 July 2011, some 600 pilots with state-run carrier PT Garuda represented by the Garuda's Pilot Association (GPA) went on strike because Garuda was paying its Indonesian pilots less than recently hired foreign pilots. The strike ended the same day after the company agreed to consider GPA's demand for equal pay. In October, Garuda announced that it would not employ foreign pilots in the future.

Hotel workers gain recognition and reinstatement of union leader:

On 17 February, the Guci Hotel Independent Trade Union (GHITU), affiliated with Federasi Serikat Pekerja Mandiri (FSPM) and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF), secured an important victory at the Guci Hotel (GH) in Bandung following an attempt to bust the union. FSPM not only secured the reinstatement of GHITU Unit Chairman, Ian Triyana, who GH dismissed on 6 February, but also won recognition rights, permanent jobs for contract workers and implementation of an 8-hour working day for all staff.

On 23 March 2011, the Bandung District Court declared Early Sobari and Yudhasari Pardikan, two members of Hyatt Indonesia Union Council, FSPM, at the Hyatt Bandung Regency (HBR) hotel, innocent of criminal acts. HBR had brought charges of embezzlement of USD15 against the two and suspended them from work in April 2008 in an attempt to curb their union activity.

Indonesian security forces kill two strikers: On 27 June 2011, about 10,000 workers represented by the PT Freeport Indonesia Workers' Union of the Chemical, Energy, Mine Workers Union (CEMWU or SP KEP SPSI) at the US-owned Freeport McMoran's Grasberg (FMG) gold and copper mine in Indonesia's Western Papua region went on strike to demand an increase in wages. The strike ended on 13 July when FMG pledged to negotiate with the union on wages and reinstated six union leaders dismissed when the strike began, with back pay. FMG also paid strikers their wages for the eight-day strike. When negotiations on wages failed, the union resumed its strike on 15 September. On 10 October, Indonesian security forces fired on striking workers killing Petrus Ayemsekaba, 30, and injuring ten more. One of the injured, Leo Wandagau, succumbed to his injuries on 15 October. Negotiations between FMG and the union resumed on 21 November. An agreement was signed in Jakarta on 14 December between SP KEP SPSI and the management ending the strike.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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