UNI is “Breaking Through” in Indonesia
UNI Global Union and its Indonesian affiliate ASPEK are breaking through with the first global agreement with an Indonesia-based company and new tripartite agreements in the commerce and ICT sectors.
A UNI delegation was in Indonesia with its member union ASPEK, which is breaking through with new strength to improve the lives of its 80,000 members.
UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings and ANTARA CEO Ahmad Mukhlis signed a global agreement today with ANTARA, the leading multimedia company in Indonesia. It is the 36th such agreement with a multinational.
Mukhlis said the company is fully committed to the agreement and its practical application. He was delighted that this was the first global agreement signed in Indonesia and encouraged other Indonesian multinationals to do likewise. Mukhlis brought a copy of the national collective agreement for ANTARA to the signing ceremony and said it would be the cornerstone of their relations with UNI and with national unions.
The ASPEK members from ANTARA were present at the signing ceremony as well and pledged their commitment to the agreement.
Also today as the UNI delegation looked on, ASPEK, the Indonesian government and employers signed agreements to establish tripartite structures for social dialogue in the retail and IT and telecom sectors. This is a first for Indonesia.
“We welcome the forward thinking of ASPEK, who along with UNI Apro, have been working toward the establishment of this new tripartite structure,” Jennings said.
ASPEK President Muhamad Hakim said the union is for the social dialogue and that this will do this on the basis of their organizing strength.
“We come to the table as a strong social partner and it is important that the right to organize and the right to negotiate are respected,” he said.
The UNI delegation and ASPEK also met with Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, the secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Jennings handed over a trade union G20 statement on “beating the jobs crisis” at a large press event that was covered by national television and print media. Jennings also handed over the global union statement for the forthcoming G20 labour ministers meeting that will be held in Washington DC.
Indonesia is the world’s third most populous democracy and the country with largest Muslim population. It is now in the process of a real democratic transformation and is also a key member of the G20 process, Jennings said.
“The G20 have established a process for a framework for strong sustainable growth with an emphasis on employment and poverty reduction,” Jennings added. “The signing of these break-through tripartite agreements in the retail and ICT sector is a strong sign that the Indonesian government is taking G20 responsibilities seriously.”
Jennings said trade unions demand a seat at the table at the G20 meetings and that in all G20 countries unions must play a part in national economic development.
During the press conference, which was broadcast throughout the nation, there were questions about role of Indonesia in a growing Asian economy and the impact of free trade agreements on workers in the country.
President Hakim of ASPEK said that the Indonesian workers were not naïve; they recognized that there would be consequences for their livelihoods from such agreements. The union voice must not be ignored and the tripartite agreement would provide the means to examine the adjustment costs and remedies for Indonesian workers.
In the press conference UNI said it was looking to the Indonesian president to address the concerns of workers during the G20 summits that will be held in Canada and Korea this year.
Hakim said that as the workplace becomes modernized and new technology is introduced workers have to share in the productivity gains that would result.
“To raise productivity we have to raise the skills of the Indonesian worker; the government has to invest in human capital,” he said.
UNI Apro has an initiative underway to build a social dialogue with ASEAN that will mirror that which currently exist in the European Union. The delegation impressed on Pitsuwan the importance of the human dimension to the economic transformation taking place in Asia. As a new regional architecture for economic integration evolves, the institutions should be mindful of governments’ structures that took into account the voice of working people.
Next week in Hannoi, UNI Apro, with the participation of UNI Europa regional secretary Bernadette Ségol, will hold a conference with ASEAN governments and representatives from the EU to discuss future social dialogue structures for ASEAN.