Viriya Paramita & Lenny Tristia Tambun
A civil rights group says it has received dozens of reports of Jakarta-based companies not paying employees their holiday bonuses, but the city manpower office says no complaints have been filed with it.
Maruli Tua Rajagukguk, a lawyer with the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), said on Wednesday that at least 101 workers at private and state-owned companies had reported that they had not received their holiday bonus known as THR, or had been short-changed.
Seventy-three of the workers had filed complaints with the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry on Monday, he said, and another 28 on Wednesday.
He said Sahat Sinurat, the ministry’s director for industrial relations, had responded by ordering the local manpower office to look into the grievances and investigate the employers.
However, workers had still not received their bonuses with just one working day left before the Idul Fitri holiday, Maruli said.
The THR, which constitutes a 13th month bonus, is supposed to be paid at least a week before Idul Fitri, at the latest.
“Every year the ministry sets up complaints posts where workers can report THR violations, but the problem of nonpayments has never been resolved,” Maruli said.
“It would be more accurate to call those posts complaint repositories, because they really only serve to make it appear as though the government is doing something.”
But the Jakarta Manpower Office said it had received no complaints about employees not receiving their bonuses.
“To date there have been no complaints filed with us,” said Deded Sukandar, the head of the manpower office.
“If there are, we will write up a report. And if we find that the employers have violated the law, we will punish them. This ranges from a written warning to a revocation of their business permits.”
Maruli said the withholding of the THR was an annual problem that needed to be addressed through strict enforcement by the authorities.
“Whenever Idul Fitri approaches, you find a lot of companies refusing to pay the THR, with the excuse that they can’t afford it,” Maruli said. “But in truth these companies have enough to keep operating.”
Earlier this week, the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Unions (KSPI) called on the government to crack down on companies shirking their obligation to pay workers the bonus.
Said Iqbal, president of the confederation, said on Sunday that many companies were avoiding the obligation by hiring workers on an outsource basis, and then terminating their contracts just a week before Idul Fitri.
He said after the holiday, employers hire the workers back, bypassing the obligation to pay the THR.