Thu, 18 Dec 2003

Employers, labor unions accept new labor law

Ridwan Max Sijabat The Jakarta Post Jakarta

Employers and labor unions put their weight behind the newly endorsed bill on the settlement of industrial disputes, which they say gives legal certainty both to workers and employers and encourages harmonious industrial relations.

Secretary-general of the Confederation of the All-Indonesian Workers Union (KSPSI) Syukur Sarto told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that the union had actively participated in informal meetings to discuss the bill, both with the House of Representatives and the manpower and transmigration ministry, and fully supported the new legislation.

"KSPSI fully accepts the new legislation because its substance in general is in line with our own draft proposed both to the House and the government," he said.

Syukur said only a few of the 75 labor unions registered with the government had opposed the law because it allows the government to intervene in handling industrial disputes.

"KSPSI supports the role the government will continue to play in the future, not only to help reach out-of-court settlements but also because of the corrupt judiciary system in the country. In accordance with the law, mediation is obligatory because Law No. 13/2003, which was enacted in March, requires the government to provide legal protection for workers, especially when they are in trouble," he said.

It would be easier for employers to buy a ruling in a court with a panel of only three judges as in the past than to buy a decision by the 15-member Central Committee for the Settlement of Labor Disputes (P4P), he added. A special court is to be set up to try labor disputes.

Many minor labor unions oppose the new legislation, which allows the government to intervene in labor disputes because, according to them, the government would take employers' sides as it did in the past while employers would be financially able to buy court decisions on labor.

Rustam Achsan, chairman of the Food, Leather and Textile Labor Union, said his union accepted the new legislation because it gave more room for workers to fight for their aspirations and to to win disputes with their employers.

Separately, Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) secretary-general Djimanto said Apindo appreciated the legislation because it was expected to give investors legal certainty when investing in the country.

"The new law stipulates quick and fair legal proceedings in seeking settlements to industrial disputes between employers and workers. Employers will no longer have to wait five years as they did in the past in dealing with disputes with their workers," he said.