Indonesian union refused legal status

November 10, 1999

Indonesian union refused legal status

By Sam King

JAKARTA — The independent Workers' Committee for Reform Action (KOBAR) is made up of factory-level trade unions in six industrial sectors in Jakarta. It is affiliated to the Indonesian National Front for Workers' Struggle (FNPBI).

Indonesia's Department of Labour Power rejected KOBAR's September 30 application for legal recognition on the grounds that the organisation constitutes a federation, not a union.

The application was made on the day that new labour laws came into effect. KOBAR was the first organisation to obtain a copy of the new laws and distributed them to other unions and non-government organisations.

KOBAR's general secretary, Ilham Syah, told Green Left Weekly on November 4, "Many laws from the Suharto era have entered the new code". Companies still have the right to hand-pick the leaders of worker organisations at their factories.

KOBAR and other unions have condemned the appointment of Bomer Pasaribu as minister for labour. Pasaribu is a former head of the SPSI, the government-run union under Suharto. An action by various unions and NGOs on October 28 demanded that Pasaribu be dismissed.

KOBAR members will march to the department of labour building this week to demand that KOBAR be recognised as a legal union and that military intervention into workers' affairs end.

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