Union Questions the Regional Representative Council of Indonesia’s (DPD RI) motive on initiating the amendment to Law no. 21 of 2000 on Trade Union/Workers Union

The General Secretary of Persatuan Pegawai Indonesia Power (PPIP), Andy Wijaya, questions the Regional Representative Council of Indonesia’s (hereafter, DPD RI) motive on initiating the amendment to Law no. 21 of 2000 on Trade Union/Workers Union. The DPD RI’s tasks as stated by the 1945 Constitution is to propose to the People’s Representative Council of Indonesia (hereafter, DPR RI) a bill related to regional autonomy, relation between national and regional government, formation, expansion, and unification of areas, natural resources management and other economic sources, and in relation to fiscal balance between central and regional governments. Andy Wijaya told this when he spoke in a Public Hearing with Commission III of DPD RI in relation to inventory on initiative bill drafting on amendment of Law No.21 of 2000, on Monday (20/6).

Further, Andy said, unions currently tend to focus on the Employment Creation Law that already amended some of the clauses in the Labor Law. The Constitutional Court found at least three constitutional violation and stated that the Employment Creation Law must be cancelled. In other words, the revision of Law No. 21 of 2000 is not an urgency.

Meanwhile, if the Law No. 21 of 2000 is to be revised, the unions thinks that it must be based on:

First, the number of trade union/workers union membership that tend to stagnate since the Reformation 1998 but on the other hand, the number of union, federation, and confederation increased.

“An information from satudata.kemnaker said that up to 2020 there are 3,256,025 unionized workers in 10,746 unions/16 Federations/6 Confederation. This number is not much different from the Reformation era and relatively very small compared to the number of formal workers in 2021 that is more than 50 million workers as showed by BPS’ data,” said Andy.

“Even in some cases, there are overlapped unions in terms of membership and sectors. Even there are some unions who have similar or exactly same logos and emblems or even same registration number,” he proceeded.

Andy also thought that in order to strengthen the function of unions, there needs to be acknowledgment that unions are legal entitites who can act on the name of the organizations legally as other legal entities.

Second, there are efforts to stop or prevent the formation or establishment of unions in a company. Unions are considered to be obstruction to the harmony between workers and the company.

Third, lack of support from the government to the development of unions function.

Another important point is that the rights to union must be initiated since the very first day of a worker works. Besides, the right to union must be aligned with the permit regime of company establishment. A company permit mus also include informing workers to union and facilitate union formation in addition to BPJS subscription for the workers. A company must also include human rights enforcement, such as freedom of association.

“There also needs to be a regulation on quality and exclusive CBA that will benefit the members of the union,” added Andy Wijaya.

Currently, CBA in a particular company is also applicable to non-union members. This can be seen as one of the reasons why union membership is decreasing as being members of unions are not a “privilege”. We should hold on to a contract principle, i.e. the agreement only applies on the parties who agrees. There have been several regulations on this matter i.e. Law No. 13 of 2003 on Labor and Minister of Labor Regulation No. 28 of 2014. However, the amendment of Law No. 21 of 2000 could assert that a function of union is to form a CBA that is only applicable to its members.

Unions also have interests in supporting company’s productivity and growth to create common welfare.

“Another thing is that we found many employers who refuse to help unions with union dues by using COS mechanism. Therefore, unions must collect dues mannually to each and every member. This should not have happened if companies/employers are obliged to facilitate the collection,” he added.

Meanwhile, in responding the proposal of amendment of some clauses of Law No. 21 of 2000, Andy highlighted article 4 that seems to be using conlict paradigm in the relation between unions and employers. Therefore, there needs to be the employers’ perspective added, not just the legal norms related to the function and objectives of union.

“The existing norms on implementation of union function should also be supported by sanction so that the law is enforced and more meaningful,” Andy asserted.

In relation to regulaiton on federation and confederation, Andy thought that there must be clear sector differentiation between one federation with the other. There are even unions whose membership is multi and cross business sectors.

“Therefore, we think that union federation needs to be returned to the sector where they function and their membership are. This will also impact the representation in the tripartite institution and other similar institutions. In terms of confederation, we think that there should only be a few, maybe 2 or 3. Confederation is the the top of hierarchy of unions,” he added.

We propose for a protection. The chapter is now on protection, development, and monitoring. There should be protection on implementation union function that are not carried out by their partners, i.e. the company.

There should be a regulation on labor offices so that those office would be more competent and capable in taking action needed to protect unions. For example, regulation on how labor office must respond to a complaint on alleged union function violation so that it would not be a conflict. And then labor office would take a decisive action and impose a sanction.

“In short, what we want to say is that the law must also regulate labor office so that they would be more competent and capable,” added Andy.

Another problem to be discussed further is related to intimidation and obstruction to union activities and how they can be measured. For example, the company is not willing to negotiated the CBA, refuse to cut workers’ wage for union dues using Check off system, and not willing to give dispensation for workers to participate in union activities.

According Andy, those real cases should be regulated in the article 28 that is added in the law and that has correlation to article 43 of Law No. 21 of 2000. In addition, the mechanism of implementation of article 43 must be clarified and emphasized. As well as the relation between labor office and the police.

“Even the Law could just order local police offices to create a special for labor issue so that any complaint or reports from workers on any criminal violation can be responded better,” Andy added.

Herewith position paper that presented by bro Andy Wijaya during the workshop, please click here (bahasa Indonesia)

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