An irate business community on Friday slammed a recently issued Manpower Ministry directive ordering firms to pay a one-month Idul Fitri holiday bonus to nonpermanent contract workers, saying it was unexpected and had serious financial implications.
The directive, issued on Aug. 28, means employers will have to find additional money within the next few days to pay holiday bonuses not only to their permanent workers, but also nonpermanent ones. This year, Idul Fitri falls on Sept. 21 and 22.
“I think the manpower minister is just trying to garner popularity,” said Bambang Soesatyo, the deputy chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).
“This is inappropriate and businesses should not be forced to suffer as a result. Businesses are still having a tough time as a result of the global crisis, high interest rates, high taxes and high raw-material costs,” he added.
“They should be thankful that we’re not laying off workers or cutting salaries, given the circumstances. We had only factored in bonuses for our permanent staff.”
The latest figures from the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) show that the number of contract workers in the formal sector stood at about 17.5 million at the end of 2008, out of a total of 28.7 million workers in the formal sector.
The country’s labor force is estimated to currently number about 112 million people.
Djimanto, Apindo’s secretary general, said most companies would have few problems in paying bonuses to their permanent staff. “But on the ground, there are definite problems about bonuses for contract workers, especially in cases where manpower is supplied by outsourcing firms,” he said.
Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno insisted on Thursday that if a company failed to comply with the directive, it would leave itself open to sanctions, including possible criminal prosecution.
He said that if an employer were financially incapable of paying the bonuses, they should inform the ministry and prove their case by presenting evidence showing the company’s financial position.
“The government will provide leeway as long as the company promises to pay the bonuses later, or pay them in kind with goods that are of the same value, subject to the approval of the workers,” he said.