Several pro-labor reforms have taken effect in Indonesia in the past 12 months.
In November, the House of Representatives enacted the National Social Security Law requiring all workers’ insurance and pension schemes to be managed by a single entity, the BPJS.
The body, set to begin operations on Jan. 1, 2014, will provide health insurance to all Indonesians and expatriates who have worked here for at least six months.
Currently, 117 million Indonesians have some form of health insurance, but domestic workers and contract-based laborers are not covered.
A second stage, to be implemented by July 2015, will provide accident and life insurance as well as a pension scheme.
Another milestone came in January, when the Constitutional Court declared outsourcing unlawful.
The court found that Indonesian workers had “the right to a decent job and a decent life,” a ruling that should be the basis of the Labor Law.
Muhaimin Iskandar, the minister for manpower and transmigration, swiftly pledged to enact a ministerial decree to support a court ruling limiting the use of outsourcing.
The ministry, he said, would ensure the decree stipulated that companies could outsource only peripheral work and not core jobs and that they have to provide their outsourced workers with the same benefits as permanent employees.
The minister did not elaborate on the exact timing of the expected decree but said it would include “tight monitoring on outsourced workers and the kind of work that can be outsourced.”
Early last month, the government also vowed to build cheap housing for laborers in industrial areas across the country.
The government on Monday announced more plans to improve workers’ conditions.
“This May there will be gifts from president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for the workers,” Muhaimin said.
Muhaimin said the government would increase the threshold before which a salary is taxed from Rp 1.3 million toRp 2 million ($142 to $218). The government, he said, was also building hospitals and providing laborers with cheap transportation.
Propserous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker Indra SH said the tax plan would increase laborers’ welfare and had his support.
But Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker Rieke Dyah Pitaloka said the pledge was like “giving toys to children” and urged workers not to be swayed. She said the government should do more.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) last year arrested a West Java judge for accepting a bribe from an electronics company in exchange for a favorable ruling in a labor dispute. The arrest confirmed longstanding allegations by labor activists that corruption plays a part in labor dispute rulings.