Wed, 17 Dec 2003

House endorses bill on industrial disputes

Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Employers can no longer arbitrarily dismiss their workers as a new bill on industrial dispute settlement that the House of Representatives endorsed on Tuesday allows a dismissed worker to directly bring his or her case to court.

It will rectify Law No. 13/2003 on labor protection that was passed into law in March, which allows employers to dismiss their workers provided that it is permitted by the manpower ministry.

"Employers are allowed to dismiss their workers only if all requirements set by the law are met. The new legislation on settlement of industrial relations disputes aims to give the chance for workers and employers to seek a quick and fair settlements to their disputes," Minister of Manpower and Transmigration Jacob Nuwa Wea said after the House's plenary meeting to endorse the new bill.

The minister however said the new legislation would allow employers to seek court orders preventing labor unions employing forms of industrial action that are not permitted under the labor law.

"In the future, it will no longer effective for workers to stage massive rallies to demand their (normative) rights because the new legislation regulates a new system to seek fair and quick settlements of industrial disputes," he said.

The new legislation which will replace obsolete Law No. 22/1957 and Law No. 14/1964, stipulates that conflicting parties, whether workers, employers or labor unions, are free to settle their disputes through mediation, conciliation, arbitration, or directly at the labor court, if they fail to reach an agreement at a bipartite level.

Under the current system, conflicting sides go to government- appointed mediators and, if they fail to reach a settlement, go to the local committee for settlement of industrial disputes (P4D) and finally the central committee (P4P). The manpower minister is also allowed to veto committee' decisions which many consider unfair.

To enforce the law, the government is to issue a regulation on the appointment of professional mediators, conciliators and arbitrators in handling industrial disputes. In addition to the district court found in regencies and municipalities there will be a special (labor) court to try labor cases.

The newly endorsed bill will be communicated to the public for one year before its full enforcement next year.

It also stipulates that the labor court, especially in regencies and municipalities where industrial estates are located, should have a panel of at least three judges consisting of one career judge and two ad hoc judges representing employers and workers.

"The new legislation offers quick settlement of labor disputes and frees workers from paying administrative fees to courts in bringing cases involving compensation amounting up to Rp 150 million," Nuwa Wea said.

He added that while the government is preparing the establishment of the new system and promoting the new legislation, both the regional and central committees for settlement of labor disputes that will be dissolved, will no longer accept any registration of new industrial disputes.