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Apr '06

Three-party forum set to hash out labor deal

The government will sit down with labor unions and representatives of the business community in a three-party forum to seek a resolution to the crippling dispute over the draft of a new labor law.

Two alternative drafts of the labor law will be submitted to the forum for deliberation by the business community and labor unions, Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno said after a meeting between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Vice President Jusuf Kalla, ministers, business groups and representatives of several labor unions.

He said the current draft would serve as a point of reference in the deliberation process. The President on Saturday is scheduled to brief the public on the issue.

Although the President was quoted as saying the government will ask credible experts to review the current 2003 Labor Law to determine if revisions are necessary, changes seem inevitable. Both Erman and Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman M.S. Hidayat said the three-party forum would discuss the revisions to be made.

Labor unions have launched massive protests across the country in response to the draft law, paralyzing industries for the past several weeks. The unions claim the draft in its current version favors business at the expense of the rights and welfare of workers.

Coordinating Minister for the People’s Welfare Aburizal Bakrie, himself a leading businessman, quoted the President as saying the forum should factor three elements into its deliberations: the protection of the rights and welfare of workers, business growth in the country and economic expansion.

“The President said the way to cut the unemployment rate is to create jobs. The root of this problem is (a lack of) investment. The President has ordered the manpower minister to actively pursue the three-party forum because this problem has to be discussed by all sides,” he said.

The three parties are expected to begin their deliberations this month.

Rekson Silaban, chairman of the Indonesian Confederation of Labor Unions for Welfare, said he appreciated the President acknowledging the protests.

“The President said we can’t move from one extreme to another … from a restrictive law on labor to one that is too loose. It has to be somewhere in between, and Indonesia shouldn’t adopt the current draft because it’s very liberal,” he said.

Indonesian Congress of Labor Unions chairman Rusli Yunus said workers felt they had been left out of earlier three-party talks and were demanding mutual respect.

Labor unions said they felt the earlier talks had been abandoned, forcing them to organize street rallies after they were shut out of discussions on the new labor law.

However, Manpower Minister Erman insisted the current draft was the product of a three-party forum held in January last year, a claim disputed by both the business community and the unions.

Indonesian Employers Association head of industrial relations Hasanuddin Rahman said the earlier forum only agreed that revisions to the law were necessary, while Indonesian Federation of Labor Unions secretary-general Syukur Sarto denied there was even an agreement on the necessity of revisions.

Sumber :  (Tony Hotland) The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

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