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Jun '07

Minister accused of public betrayal

Labor activists have harshly criticized Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno, alleging he deceived the public on Indonesia’s acceptance of an international convention on fisheries.

Last Thursday, Erman announced Indonesia would soon ratify the “Work in Fishing Convention”, which was fostered at a recent International Labor Organization (ILO) conference in Geneva, after reviewing all relevant regulations.

The convention sets core labor standards, including social security programs, international-standard minimum wages, medical check-ups and overtime payments for seafarers who spend lengthy periods of time onboard fishing vessels.

However, the secretary general of the Indonesian Employers’ Association, Djimanto, confirmed the Indonesian government’s no-vote on the convention. The cause of this, he said, was strong objection to the convention from business groups and shipowners who opposed the implementation of international labor standards in Indonesia.

“We are still using the national standards for minimum wages and social security protection,” he said.

In uproar, labor unions accused the government of lacking enough political will to protect and improve the welfare of workers in the fishery industry.

The Indonesian Seafarers’ Association called on the United Nations and international labor unions to discredit the Indonesian government for trying to shield the public from what it labeled rights abuses perpetrated against seamen and rampant crime in the fishery sector.

“We have filed an official protest to the Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Ministry and asked for full support from ITF and other international confederations of labor unions to lobby the United Nations to closely monitor the labor abuses in the fishery sector,” KPI chairman Hanafi Rustandi said.

“Erman has deceived the public and therefore should quit his post. Workers will stage massive rallies demanding the minister’s accountability as his big delegation to the conference cost the people too much through the state budget.”

Hanafi also highlighted the “prolonged mistreatment” of seafarers who, he said, have been paid in accordance with minimum wage standards and were not covered by social security programs.

“Most Indonesian workers have experienced discrimination in their workplace because they are generally underpaid while their foreign colleagues are well-paid according to the international standards,” he said.

Syukur Sarto, deputy chairman of the Confederation of All-Indonesian Workers Union, agreed. He said the government lacked the political will to improve the social welfare of migrant workers and seafarers.

“The absence of adequate attention from the government toward immigrant workers and seafarers is shown it its rejection of ratifying the ILO conventions on the protection of migrant workers and their families and on fisheries,” he said.

Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union chairman Rekson Silaban also expressed his disappointment with the government’s no-vote on the convention, which he said strongly indicates it is turning a blind eye to working conditions in the fishery industry.

Rekson said Indonesia should support the ILO convention, but suspend ratifying it until it is ready to do so.

Meanwhile, chairwoman of the labor and transmigration commission at the House of Representatives Ribka Tjiptaning seemed confused upon learning of Indonesia’s refusal to ratify the ILO convention.

“We will focus on this issue in the upcoming hearing with the minister,” she said.

Sumber :  (Ridwan Max Sijabat) The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

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