Homework for Minister of Manpower

Timboel Siregar Advocacy Coordinator of BPJS Watch and General Secretary of All Indonesian Workers’ Organization-Indonesian Workers’ Society Confederation (Organisasi Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia-Konfederasi Rakyat Pekerja Indonesia – “OPSI-KRPI”)

IO – President Jokowi has chosen Ida Fauziah as the new Minister of Manpower to replace Hanif Dhakiri in his second cabinet. Ida Fauziah, who comes from the National Awakening Party (Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa – PKB”) is the second woman to serve as Ministry of Manpower in Indonesia history, after SKI Trimurti, who became the first Minister of Labor in Soekarno’s era.

Although Ida Fauziah’s doesn’t have much background in the world of employment, whether during her 19 years in the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”) or other history, the President has chosen Ida Fauziah to realized his visions and missions for worker prosperously and to support an attractive investment climate. In a working meeting with DPR Commission IX on Monday (4/11/2019), she outlined President Jokowi’s vision and missions and focused on his three missions of increasing the quality of Indonesia’s people, supporting a production economic structure, independent and competitive, and creating protections for the whole nation and imparting a feeling of security for all.

Her task in realizing these three missions will be to support the 2020-2024 Macro Development Goals, which are the reduction of open unemployment to 4.0-4.6%, poverty to 6.5%-7.0%, increase GDP per capita to USD 5,780 -6,160, increase the Human Development Index to 73.35 and the Gini Ratio to 0.370 – 0.374.

The Ministry’s Main Agenda

There will be much on the work agendas for the new minister in trying to carry out the President’s three missions, especially in fixing the employment ecosystem. Her tasks will be increasingly difficult, especially to fulfill the hopes of the President, to nurture a Job Creation Act, a central agenda of the new regime, specifically for the Ministry of Manpower. Many laws will be integrated into the Job Creation Act, not excluding those for labor.

The Job Creation Act is certain to target Law No. 13/2003 concerning Manpower, Law No. 2, 2004 concerning Settlement of Industrial Relations Disputes, and other laws it seeks to replace. On the issue of Law No. 13/2003, there will surely be pushback from trade/labor unions who are “certain” that the Law No. 13/2003 revisions will impair worker rights and result in suffering. Trade/worker unions will deem the Job Creation Act as putting investment before other interests, such as worker prosperity.

As a result, the difficult task of the Minister will be how to balance all interests in the Job Creation Act so there won’t be any problems or threats to labor stakeholders and especially workers.

Workers’ needs which must be paid attention to by the government include certainty of work, creation of a wage system that supports the purchasing power of workers, vocational training and education that creates quality human resources, certainty of getting social security protection for workers and their families, as well as labor law enforcement and effective compliance.

Working as a constitutional right of all Indonesians is certainly a requirement for a prosperous nation, in order to decrease the level of unemployment and poverty. Ensuring Indonesians can get work by opening up quality employment is the responsibility of the government and must be supported by all elements of the nation. Ensuring the people can work for a fair wage is the hope of all Indonesians. 

Massive and systematic education and vocational training must be a priority as it supports the productivity of our workforce. The fact is that our workforce is still unable to fulfill current industry needs. The same can be said for the quality of our workers abroad. Competency, productivity, and work ethics are issues which have long plagued our workforce.  Education and vocational training must be made into a National Strategic Program so all regional governments and other stakeholders support quality education and vocational training together. Certainly, support from the state budget must also be improved.

Issues of social security in protecting our workers are also part of the task of the Ministry. Not only formal employment but also informal employment must be the subject of social security in the four social security programs managed by BPJS Ketenagakerjaan (Social Insurance Administration Organization for Employment). The presence of the Non-Contributory Health Insurance (PBI) program for Work Accident and Death Insurance for impoverished informal workers is very much needed, and this is urgent homework to be realized by the government.

The issue of weak labor law enforcement and effective compliance is an open secret from Minister to Minister. This must be addressed systematically so that a positive law becomes a reference for the implementation of industrial relations in the workplace. The transfer of the authority for labor inspection to the provinces has actually reduced the quality and quantity of labor inspectors. The problem of the lack of labor inspectors which is always being complained about is always ignored for budget reasons. The offer for tripartite supervision to supervise the performance of labor inspectors can improve the performance of labor inspections going forward.

Of course, all hopes of improving the employment ecosystem must be supported by all parties. Productive and constructive support from all labor stakeholders to the Minister of Manpower is hoped for in order to support worker welfare and a favorable investment climate. Hopefully, the increasing welfare of workers and the creation of a good investment climate can be carried out well during Jokowi’s second period.