Published: 20/11/2001

Article from the publication Kompas, 10 November 2001

Original story in bahasa indonesia at Kompas website.

The Indonesian Minister for Manpower and Transmigration, Yacob Nua Wea, regards the decision of the South Jakarta State Court on Thursday (1/11), which ordered seven organisers in the Shangri-La Hotel Independent Union (SPMS) to pay a fine of Rp. 20.7 billion, as erroneous.

Yacob believes that the decision could become a bad precedent for workers and will make the resolution of labour disputes in Indonesia more complicated.

In regard to this decision the Minister recognised that the justice system in Indonesia is tainted and full of collusion, which reduces the possibility of workers or members of the community receiving justice.

These remarks were made in a meeting between the Minister, Shangri-La, SPMS organisers and the Director-General for Development of Industrial Relations and Waskenaker? at the Department of Manpower Office in Jakarta, as announced in an SPMS press release received by Kompas Cyber Media on Saturday night (10/11).

According to Yacob, the sentence handed down by the Judges’ Panel, which requires seven SPMS organisers, who were also Shangri-La workers, to pay the fine, is crazy. “Because these workers are forced to pay compensation to the hotel for the three month closure, which was decided upon by the owners of the hotel themselves,” noted the Minister in the press release. Yacob asked how it was possible that the seven workers, Halilintar Nurdin, Adeng Surachman, Valentinus Wagiyo, Edy Hudiyanto, M Zulrachman, Idep S Mubarok and Hemasari Dharmabumi, would ever be able to pay such a large fine, while the wage they received as Shangri-La workers was only Rp. 2, 850 000 per month.

Other than that, continued Yacob, the existence of the South Jakarta State Court’s decision would make the government’s position difficult because it must answer take responsibility for it at the meeting of Governing Body of the ILO on the 20 November in Geneva, Switzerland. This is the case, because the Shangri-la case has already been noted with registration number 2116 on the agenda of the ILO Governing Body meeting.

In the press release, SPSM also mentioned that the Minister was not satisfied with the meeting that took place in his conference room, because Shangri-La was only represented by its lawyer, Maqdir Ismail and two Shangri-La directors, Hendrik William and Yusuf. This in spite of the fact that the Minister’s invitation, dated 7 November 2001, was directed to the Executive Director and the General Manager of the Shangri-La.

Because this was viewed as a failure, Yacob would call the hotel owners, Osbert Lyman and Robert Kuok to attend another meeting to follow. The Minister plans to arrange another meeting between the disputing parties, because the Indonesian government does not wish the case to continue and be taken to the Governing Body of the ILO. Yacob’s reason for this is that it will be the government and Indonesian society itself that will feel the impact of sanctions imposed because of this case.