Expert: Workers Unions Important for Balance in Industrial Relations

A judicial review hearing of the Election Law to hear the expert for the Petitioners of case No. 40/PUU-XXI/2023, Thursday (1/25/2024). Photo by MKRI/Ilham W.M.

JAKARTA (MKRI) — In 2005–2023, the number of workers unions in Indonesia drastically decreased from 1.8 million to only 165,000 despite the fact that their existence is important in maintaining a balance in industrial relations between employers and the government. This is because they are a form of workers’ collective rights in fighting for their interests through negotiation as guaranteed by Law No. 21 of 2000 on Workers Unions/Labor Unions, but Law No. 6 of 2023 on the Stipulation of Government Regulation in Lieu of Law No. 2 of 2022 on Job Creation into Law does not regulate this.

The statement was made by Indrasari Tjandraningsih of the non-profit research institute AKATIGA as an expert for the Petitioners of case No. 40/PUU-XXI/2023 at a hearing for the formal judicial review of the Job Creation Law on Thursday, January 25, 2024 in the plenary courtroom.

Before Chief Justice Suhartoyo and the other constitutional justices, Indrasari also said that Indonesia uses the neoliberal capitalism paradigm of market mechanism in industrial relations where the government withdraws its responsibility and role in the protection of workers, including through workers unions. However, the articles on fixed-term employment agreements (PKWT) and outsourcing in the Job Creation Law have changed the model of employment relations from permanent to non-permanent, which has direct implications for the strength of workers unions. This is because contract workers are not keenly interested in joining workers unions. The reduction or decline in workers unions affects their bargaining opportunities, which has implications for the balance in industrial relations, which in turn potentially causes industrial tensions.

“This can be seen during the drafting process of the Manpower Chapter of the Job Creation Law for the last three years and even until now, which ignores workers unions, who are main stakeholders in the legislation process, thus triggering unproductive labor relations situations and conditions that are detrimental to all parties,” said Indrasari, who also testified for case No. 61/PUU-XXI/2023 filed by Leonardo Siahaan.

The weakening role of workers unions, she argued, has a negative impact on the harmony and equitability of industrial relations. She believes these unions do not only benefit workers and employers, because communication with workers unions is an efficient step for employers, especially on a large scale, to negotiate various policies and regulations as well as these employers’ interests through workers unions.

“The Job Creation Law denies the mandate of the 1945 Constitution by eliminating job security and opportunities for decent work, justice in employment relations, freedom of association, and the decline of state protection of employment to groups of citizens who are in a weaker position compared to employers,” she stressed.

Guarantee of Legal Protection and Welfare of Workers

Meanwhile, another expert for the Petitioners, constitutional law professor of the Christian University of Indonesia (UKI) John Pieris, revealed that the transfer of legal norms on guarantees of legal protection and welfare of workers from the Job Creation Law to Government Regulation (PP) No. 35 of 2001 as an implementing regulation contradicts the principles of legal certainty and prudence in making legal construction in stages. This action, he continued, can be considered an effort to undermine legal norms and obscure the rule of law.

Next, Pieris argued that there are theoretical and ethical standards in the politics of legislation in Indonesia with regard to the meaning and restrictions of open legal policy.  “The Job Creation Law was ruled conditionally unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court, then the Government Regulation in Lieu of Law on Job Creation was issued and approved by the DPR. So, there is irregularity of mechanisms in the politics of legislation from the formation of neat and orderly laws. The doctrine of open legal policy should be pursued carefully and remain within the confines of the Constitution, not disregarding the Constitution and the Lawmaking Law,” Pieris explained.

Also read:

Hundreds of Workers Allege Job Creation Law Facilitates Layoff  

Hundreds of Workers Affirm Arguments for Case on Job Creation Law 

Court Rules to Separate Formal and Material Review of Job Creation Law

Govt: Formulation of Job Creation Law Following Legislation

House: Job Creation Law to Maintain National Economy’s Stability

Petitioners’ Experts: Job Creation Law Not Urgent

Aan Eko Widiarto: Job Creation Perppu Defies Constitutional Court’s Ruling

Petitioners’ Expert: Job Creation Law Unqualified for Omnibus Method

Revision of Job Creation Law Serves to Follow Up on Court’s Ruling

Formal Petitions Rejected, Material Review of Job Creation Law Continues

Govt Discusses Limit of Non-Permanent Contracts in Job Creation Law

The case No. 40/PUU-XXI/2023 was filed by 121 petitioners, consisting of ten workers’ unions and 111 individuals. Among the unions are Federasi Serikat Pekerja Kimia, Energi, dan Pertambangan Serikat Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia (FSP KEP SPSI); Persatuan Pegawai Indonesia Power (PP IP); and Federasi Serikat Pekerja Indonesia (FSPI). They allege that the Job Creation Law is legally flawed. They question the House’s approval of the stipulation of Government Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) No. 2 of 2022 on Job Creation into law. They assert that this means the House approved the president’s justification of the compelling crisis situation for the stipulation of the perppu. In addition, the enforcement of Article 81 of the Job Creation Law has led to actual or at least potential losses in the part of the Petitioners and could lead to the loss of job. It essentially facilitates layoffs and changes in manpower as regulated in the articles of the Law has degraded state protections for workers, which was previously regulated appropriately in Law No. 13 of 2003 on Manpower.

Also read:

Temporary Employment Agreement in Job Creation Law Challenged

Petitioner of Temporary Employment Agreement in Job Creation Law Adds Work Experience

Court Rules to Separate Formal and Material Review of Job Creation Law

Meanwhile, the Petitioner of case No. 61/PUU-XXI/2023, private employee Leonardo Siahaan, argues that as a person in productive age, despite not having been employed, he would potentially work. He realized that Article 56 paragraph (3) of the Job Creation Law means that the extension of temporary employment agreements (PKWT) clearly has no fixed term and number of extension time, thus highly susceptible to exploitation of workers. Seeing the a quo article, employers could think they can extend PKWT contracts for more than 10 years and even more than 2 times when, in fact, the old Manpower Law clearly stipulates that the maximum term for a PKWT is 3 years and it can be extended only once. This means the employment term of the elderly could have been extended continuously until they become a permanent employee.

The Petitioner argued that companies can set longer employment terms in PKWT arbitrarily. Not to mention, the a quo article means employment terms can be extended indefinitely without companies having to make employees permanent. In the petition, the Petitioner explains that the a quo article generally regulates that the end of PKWT is based on two things: the end of employment term or the end of the work. He also explains that Law No. 13 of 2003 on Manpower and the Government Regulation (PP) No. 35 of 2021 on temporary employment agreement, outsourcing, working hours and break time, and employment termination.

Author       : Sri Pujianti
Editor        : Lulu Anjarsari P.
PR            : Tiara Agustina
Translator  : Yuniar Widiastuti (NL)

Disclaimer: The original version of the news is in Indonesian. In case of any differences between the English and the Indonesian versions, the Indonesian version will prevail.

Thursday, January 25, 2024 | 16:07 WIB 83