CITU/JILAF Industrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminars in Indonesia

Group photo of seminar participants

JILAF, together with the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (CITU), held industrial relations and labour policy seminars in the district of Puncak in Bogor on October 21–22 and Surabaya on October 24–25. The seminars were attended by a total of 80 people.

October 21–22 (Puncak, Bogor)
At the beginning, addresses were heard from JILAF Deputy Secretary General Koji Suzuki and CITU Secretary General Ramidi, who spoke to the participants about the main points and objectives of the seminar.

JILAF Deputy Secretary General Suzuki then gave an explanation of the history of the labour movement, economic trends, and employment conditions in Japan, as well as the features of the organizational composition of trade unions in Japan, the prevention of needless industrial disputes through constructive industrial relations (the mechanisms of collective bargaining and labour-management consultations, etc.), the flow of the annual spring labour struggle, the three guiding principles of productivity, and other topics.
Next, there was a panel discussion on revision of the internship system and appropriate minimum wage levels. Regarding the former, the labour side argued strongly that rather than providing cheap labour for companies, the system should be revised in accordance with the original purpose of countering unemployment and promoting work among young people. Regarding the latter, opinions were conflicting. While the management side claimed that current minimum wage levels were too high when seen from the perspective of international competitiveness, the trade union side argued that unless minimum wage levels were increased, the people’s purchasing power would decline, the economy would stall, and corporate business performance would deteriorate too. However, both labour and management urged a revision of the mechanism, begun a few years ago, of deciding the minimum wage through linkage with economic indicators, arguing that it should be determined, as before, through negotiations between labour and management.

CITU Vice-President Sahat Butar-Butar then gave an explanation of developments relating to labour law revision in Indonesia, stating that the CITU wants not a revision but the enactment of new legislation ensuring employment and income stability and improvement of the social security system. Among other things, participants commented that since the current labour law does have some good points in terms of the protection of workers, the CITU should compile a specific draft of new legislation and promote debate within the organization. Lectures followed on the issues of gender in the workplace and the impact of globalization on the Indonesian economy.

Finally, group discussions took place on issues raised in the seminar. In their presentations, the groups made such comments as “Trade unions also should participate in minimum wage negotiations,” “Rather than provincial levels, there should be a national uniform minimum wage,” and “The CITU should establish an internal project team on new labour legislation and compile a draft of a new law.” The Puncak seminar ended with comments on the group presentations by JILAF Deputy Secretary General Suzuki, who said that while trade unions would be required to make an extremely weighty response at the time of labour law revision, he hoped that discussions would lead to the further development of Indonesia in the future.

October 24–25 (Surabaya)
At the beginning, after an introduction of JILAF’s projects by JILAF Deputy Secretary General Suzuki, CITU Secretary General Ramidi expressed his gratitude to JILAF and the Japanese government and also remarked that at a time when trade unions in Indonesia faced various issues, including revision of the labour law, the decision to appoint a woman from East Java, where the seminar participants were living, as labour minister had made him optimistic about the future.

Although the content of the seminar was the same as that in Puncak, in the panel discussion on appropriate minimum wage levels, as characteristics of East Java, the management side pointed out that quite a number of companies in the province did not have the capacity to pay the minimum wage levels, and the labour side noted that over the last decade the minimum wage gap between the provincial capital of Surabaya and districts in East Java with the lowest levels had reportedly expanded to 50%–120%. In the light of this report, participants commented in the group discussions on appropriate minimum wage levels that the gap in East Java should be narrowed and that all companies should be made to pay more than the minimum wage.

JILAF Deputy Secretary General Suzuki ended the seminar in Surabaya by thanking the women for their active participation, noting that strengthening the voice of women was extremely important for the development of trade unions. Deputy Secretary General Suzuki added that while the labour law must protect the minimum rights of workers, he hoped that trade unions would not just oppose the revision but draft an alternative proposal and engage in proper discussions with the government and management.


10/21SunSeminar in Puncak, Bogor (day 1)
10/22MonSeminar in Puncak, Bogor (day 2)
10/24WedSeminar in Surabaya (day 1)
10/25ThuSeminar in Surabaya (day 2)

Photos of the Participants

Scene of seminar

Panel discussion

Group discussions (Puncak)

Group discussions (Surabaya)

Presentation by a participant

Icebreaker between lectures