State companies accused of exploiting workers

An alliance of labor unions has denounced worker exploitation at several state-owned enterprises, demanding that the government bring an end to such practices and force the companies to comply with the existing labor law.

The unions also criticized the targeting of labor unions at state owned enterprises, saying that the companies should set a good example to the private sector.

The alliance, Geber BUMN, comprises the Indonesian Workers Organization (OPSI), Indonesian Workers Union Association (Aspek), Unity of Action for Indonesian Workers (Kasbi), Indonesian Power Company (PLN) Workers Union and the Federation of Merpati Workers (FPM).

It accused state-owned enterprises, including PLN, Pertamina and Askes of violating the regulations on outsourcing and disbanding unions in an attempt to exploit their workers and enrich corrupt officials within the state enterprises.

OPSI Chairman S. Tapiv, spokesperson for the alliance, said that according to the alliance’s fact finding team, the management of big state-owned enterprises (SOEs) had transferred work to their own outsourcing companies for the sake of “efficiency” or minimizing labor costs. Union members who opposed the practice were ultimately dismissed, Tapiv added.

“Violations of the regulations on outsourcing have been rampant and systemic at PT Telkom, PT Pertamina, PT PLN, PT Merpati Nusantara, PT Perum Peruri, PT ASDP and PT Askes. The SOEs have established their own subsidiary companies to take on certain jobs in infringement of the labor law,” he said after a meeting with Commission IX on labor and health affairs at the House of Representatives on Monday.

Tapiv said the subsidiary companies had recruited workers and employed them on a contract basis. The workers were paid below the provincial minimum wages and were not registered with state-owned insurance company PT Jamsostek.

“The contracts are renewed every two years, giving no job security or labor protection and the workers can not develop their careers under such an employment system,” he said.

Citing an example, he said PT Graha Sarana Duta (PT GSD) wholly owned by PT Telkom, had employed their workers without any collective labor agreements. The workers were underpaid and several union members were dismissed for opposing the practice.

He alleged PT Telkom had earned Rp 81.6 billion (US$8.4 million) in annual revenues from 6,805 underpaid security guards employed in all branches nationwide and the profits were believed to have been distributed among the management because the publicly-listed corporation had never reported the income.

Aspek secretary-general Sabda Pranawa Djati cited a number of violations committed by PT GSD to which both the ministers for state-owned enterprises and manpower and transmigration had turned blind eyes.

Separately Iskandar, secretary of the Directorate of Industrial Relations Affairs at the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, stressed that the big SOEs and their subsidiaries ignored labor conditions, industrial relations and labor laws by outsourcing jobs to subsidiary companies.

Poempida Hidayatullah and Surya Chandra Surapati, members of the House’s labor and health affairs commission, criticized State-owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan, who they said was too busy branding himself for the 2014 presidential election to deal with the labor exploitation in state-owned enterprises.

By : Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post

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