Mon, 23 Sep 2002

Under-pressure House to review labor bills

Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

House of Representatives legislators will focus on contentious points when they extend the deliberation of the much-criticized bills on labor protection and industrial disputes.

Due to tough opposition from both workers and the business community, the House will announce a delay in the endorsement of the bills on Monday, and present a new bill to repeal the 1997 labor law.

Chairman of the House special committee deliberating the two bills, Surya Chandra, said labor strikes and dismissals would be among the contentious issues to be addressed.

On labor strikes, Surya said the House would seek a middle road between the demands of workers, who want employers to pay them during strikes, and employers, who take the opposite view.

"We may conclude that it is wise to say that workers who stage a lawful strike will not lose their pay from company, but the extra work will be paid for by the labor union," Surya told The Jakarta Post.

Regarding dismissal, he said the House had yet to find the best concept.

Workers have demanded compensation if they resign, while employers insist that they should only be compensated if they are dismissed by the company.

"We're still divided over the dismissal issue. Some legislators support the workers, but others agree with the employers," he said.

The remaining controversial issues are sanctions against employers, limitation of nightshift working, and salaries.

Surya of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle said the House would not involve labor unions and businesspeople during the next round of deliberations despite strong calls from both sides that they should be included.

"We have completed the hearings reserved for them. The next stage will be deliberation, during which they cannot intervene," he said.

The extra time is expected to last until November, according to Surya.

In consequence of the postponement of the bills, the previous Law No. 22/1957 on labor dispute settlement and Law No. 12/1964 on the dismissal of workers in private companies will be reinstated until the new laws come into force.

"These bills are actually better than the previous laws. If we fail to endorse the bills, we will implement laws which are obsolete and can't resolve the current problems," he said.