Industrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminar in Indonesia

JILAF, together with the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (CITU), held a two-day industrial relations and labour policy seminar in the city of Bekasi in West Java, Indonesia, on November 4–5. Until now this seminar has been held mainly in the capital city of Jakarta, but this time it was decided to hold it in Bekasi, which is an industrial city with many Japanese companies and offices. Bekasi is situated on the eastern border of Jakarta.
The seminar was attended by a total of 80 people, including officials from the CITU’s local branch and affiliated organizations (of whom 25 were women), a guest from the Embassy of Japan in Indonesia, and speakers from the Indonesian Ministry of Labour and Transmigration, the Employers’ Association of Indonesia (APINDO), and other organizations. Reflecting the situation in Bekasi, the participants included 30 or so officials from Japanese company unions.
In his address at the opening of the seminar, CITU Vice-President Ali Akbar, speaking on behalf of the organizers, remarked, “Although there is a difference with companies from other countries, Japanese enterprises are not without their labour-management problems either.” JILAF Executive Director Hisashige Danno also stated, “Indonesia is in the process of growing by utilizing its resources. Hopefully in the next stage it will achieve growth through domestic demand. At the same time, issues remain in terms of industrial relations and improving the standard of living, and the building of a related legislative system is becoming a social demand.” In addition, First Secretary Shinichiro Honda of the Embassy of Japan in Indonesia, who was invited to the seminar as a guest, commented, “Trade unions have an important role to play in economic development. Japan has built today’s industrial relations after overcoming a period of fierce confrontation between labour and management in the past. This seminar is a very timely event.”
These opening addresses were followed by lectures and a panel discussion, and the participants made statements from their respective standpoints.
In a lecture titled “The Employment Environment and the Role of Trade Unions in Response to Related Measures,” CITU Secretary General Muhammad Rusdi explained that when formulating related measures, it is necessary for trade unions to consider not only wages but also social security, the financial strength and investment of companies, financial trends, the global supply chain, and other related industrial policies and not to think only of confrontation.
In a lecture titled “Formation of the Postwar Japanese Labour Movement and Characteristics of Industrial Relations in Japan,” JILAF Executive Director Danno explained the importance of building constructive industrial relations and employment stability through contributions to productivity improvement and compared present industrial relations in Indonesia with the historical process followed by industrial relations in Japan. Executive Director Danno stated, “Simply making demands for wage hikes is meaningless if they just invite inflation. It is necessary to draft policies and make demands that take account of the lives of workers as a whole.”
The participants from Japanese company unions made several comments regarding these lectures, including the following:
“What can workers do regarding the government, which is controlled by powerful capital [employers] and tends to be on the side of management?”
“Do any big demonstrations or other forms of struggle to improve life take place in Japan?”
“I would like to see JILAF lobbying head offices in Japan or linking us to Japanese unions.”
Replies to such questions included the following:
“Tripartite dialogue is important. You should demand the establishment of that kind of consultative body.”
“Trade unions engage in large-scale action in Japan as well, but the stability of industrial relations is a separate matter. Action should be taken only after thorough consultations.”
The lively question-and-answer session reflected a high degree of interest among the participating officials from Japanese company unions.
Next, Mr. Yoshihiro Obi, an expert member of the Jakarta Japan Club (JJC) who works for a local industrial land development company, delivered a lecture titled “Fair Distribution and Sustainable Economic Development,” in which he emphasized the importance of labour-management dialogue and analyzed such points as the “role of trade unions” in this process
Mr.Wahyu, Director, Min. of Manpower and Transmigration, then gave a presentation on the pension system started in July of this year. He explained the newly promulgated legislation that was involved (2015 Government Ordinances No. 45, 46, etc.) and the structure and operation of the system.
As the final program activity on the first day, a panel discussion took place on the theme of improvement of the workplace environment. The three panelists were JILAF Executive Director Danno, Mr.Sofyan,Vice President,CITU, and Mr. Harjono, Employer’s Federation of Indonesia/APINDO. During the debate, a fatal explosion that occurred in Bekasi in July of this year at a factory of a subsidiary of a Japanese cosmetics maker was taken up as an issue. Executive Director Danno stressed the importance of everyday efforts by labour and management toward improvement of the workplace environment.
On the second day the participants divided into three sub-sessions on the themes of “sustained employment security,” “start of the pension system and the response of trade unions,” and “improvement of the workplace environment.” Afterward the contents of the discussions were announced at a plenary session.
Wrapping up the seminar, JILAF Executive Director Danno commented that “Companies do not operate only on wages and equipment. Continuous employment and business development can only be attained with the cooperation of workers.” He stressed the importance of Japanese-style functions and efforts to improve the workplace environment through dialogue and of securing financial sources for pensions. CITU Vice-President Aki Akbar stated, “From the point of view of expanding the content and enabling participants to take part in discussions, we should have scheduled three days for this seminar. I would like union members outside the metropolitan region to be given the opportunity to attend as well.”


11/04WedSeminar day 1
11/05ThuSeminar day 2

Photos of the Participants

Address at opening ceremony

CITU Secretary General Rusdi

Lecture by Mr. Obi

Explanation of the new pension system by Mr. Wahyu,MoMT, head of the Pension Bureau at the Ministry of Labour and Transmigration

Panel on workplace environment improvement

Sub-session on sustained employment security