Indonesia - Precarious work the new norm (2012)

According to the National Solidarity Committee (KSN), many Indonesian workers were forced to work in exploitative working conditions since most of them were contract-based with no social protection and job security. The number of permanent workers in the formal labour force fell from 67% in 2005 to only 35% in 2011. The government allows businesses to outsource or recruit workers on a contract basis to lure foreign investments.

Trade unions are waging a campaign to revise Labour Law 13/2003 to improve regulation of contract and agency labour. Precarious work is particularly acute in the nation’s numerous export processing zones (EPZs). It is estimated that 98% of workers in the EPZs on the island of Batam (home to 25 EPZs hosting 800 multinationals – mostly electronic manufacturing) are on contract or agency work. Some workers describe working on repeated three month contracts, then working for an agency and then brought back on a new short term contract – all to avoid workers from ever becoming permanent workers (workers employed for three years at the same company are entitled to permanent work). Workers face low wages (USD100 per month), long hours and in hazardous working conditions.

On May Day and other times during the year, Indonesia’s union members pressed the government to end contract labour and to implement the national social security system (SJSN). The workers’ demands found unusual support when Indonesia’s highest court found the country’s President, Vice President, Head of Parliament and eight Ministers guilty of not implementing the law on Social Security (UU SJSN and RUU BPJS). The Court ordered the defendants to implement the Social Security law through the introduction of regulations for the formation of a National Social Security System.

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