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Almost No [Indonesian] Press Company Has Union

Almost No [Indonesian] Press Company Has Union

by Tony Hotland, The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post Online/Pacific Media Watch): Despite widespread coverage of labor rights and trade union by the press, it is a kind of irony that almost none of the mass media organizations has one for their employees.

A research by the Alliance of Independent Journalists early last year found that out of over 1000 press companies in Indonesia, only three had trade unions registered at the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration.

"They were SCTV station in Jakarta, Waspada in Medan, and Surya Group in Surabaya," said Jajang Djamaluddin of the alliance in a press conference here Thursday.

When contacted by The Jakarta Post, however, SCTV said that its trade union had been dissolved due to unclear reasons.

This scarcity of trade unions within press companies, said Jajang, was mostly the result of an immense fear on the part of company management over a possibility that their power could be undermined.

Those employers were so allergic to trade or labor unions because they (employers) feared that such an organization would only oppose for them due to the legal power the organizations possess.

"They're also worried that such an organization would only fret about its rights and overlook its obligation," said Jajang.

The research also found that although there were companies that had some kind of trade unions (28 companies), they were in the form of informal organization without legal status.

Registered trade unions are entitled to rights to question decisions taken by the management and to solicit support from the Manpower Ministry for Advocacy and Mediation.

Unlike registered trade unions, informal employee organizations can only perform as mediators between the management and the employees, and cannot act on behalf of the whole employees.

"Even with such a small amount, many of these informal organizations are mostly idle. Unless, a critical event occurs such as dismissals or bankruptcy," Jajang said.

He added that most of these informal organizations emerged after the 1998 economic crisis when many companies, including press companies, were forced to shut down and fire their workers.

Jajang said the establishment of a legal trade union in a company should be easily achieved since it could pave the way for the enactment of a joint working agreement.

In this agreement, both parties (employees and employers) spell out the rights and obligations of each party. "Should any party violate the agreement, it has legal and recognized rights for a litigation," he said.



PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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