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Dec 16, 2010

Workers without Privileges: a modern and sugar-coated slavery?

"Workers without privileges". Sounds familiar to your ears?

A dear friend by the name of Lina, who is currently working in Australia wrote this interesting piece on her blog: (she's in my blog roll)

As part of my annual PPR (Performance Planning and Review), I had to complete Workplace discrimination and Harassment-Legal Compliance course. I have obtained the certification after taking the test on the end of the course. As the name indicates, the course contains Australian Legal Compliance of Discrimination and Harassment.

The course contains
* worker’s right to have flexible working days
* what are the appropriate behaviors to your boss, college and sub-ordinate
* Everyone has equal right for a position
* What behaviors / company policies that are considered as discrimination and harassment.

This 90 minutes online course was very interesting to me, they sounds too good to be true. According to my friend’s stories, most of Indonesian company would be breaking ALL this regulations. Here are some examples:

* In Indonesia, it is normal to advertise a job ads, with specific race , religion, political views, physical performance requirement.

Wanted: an admin person who is loyal, honest and hard worker, minimal degree: Bachelor (S1) , Chinese. - “Dicari admin, syarat: jujur, setia, pekerja keras, minimal S1 dan chinese background”

In Australia, that’s the number one rule of discrimination, people have the right to any jobs. Even this job ad is considered “indirect discrimination”: Looking for a truck driver with excellent written and oral English. (Why would a truck driver need an excellent English skill, well this ad read: wanted Australian –native truck drivers)

* The common Corporate Executive behaviour “Your boss is your master, don’t like your job and how your boss treat you, then QUIT and find another job”

Australian workers are very privileged; they have the right to have flexible working days, so they have time to look after their personal need, kids and any other arrangements.

Most of my friend who works in Jakarta, they work more than 12 hours per day/ with no flexible working days, Some is lucky enough to get paid overtime.

* Another common Corporate Executive behavior “great employees works with the system, they don’t complain, they just do their jobs, but if they DARE to complain about me, They’re out… but if I still need them, I will face them out slowly“

Yes… an employee can’t lodge a complaint about his/her situation, they are meant to deal with it. Dealing with this unfair working condition is seen as strength, as one of the aspect that employers are looking for. Isn’t that TWISTED?

An Australian company must deal, documented, and respond to the complain seriously, and the employee who lodge the complain must not be treated differently, or they organization could be charged with “Victimization”

* Don’t get me started on disability workers - THEY DON’T EXIST IN INDONESIA, if you’re disabled, you’re screwed!!!!

It is very highly unlikely that some one will hire a person with disability; most of them end up in their relative care or work independently with low wages. (I see this first hand, one of my auntie is living with disability, for all her struggle, she is a brave woman, love her so much)

Again, Australian workers had it easy, there’s a lot of access of person with any kinds of disability. They could travel with public transport, and their employers are obliged by law to provide them with any of their disability needs.

Yes… I salute the Workers without Privileges (Indonesian Workers), shame on me for complaining about my job.

Although I can’t help but wonder, when will these condition change? When will these “Corporate Executive” even consider the idea of implementing workplace discrimination and harassment polices?

Most of these “Corporate Executive” are big with their seminars of self development (potential development), business development seminars. When are they going grasp the idea of happy employee might contribute productivity growth?

Hopefully SOON.

Again .. Salute to all hard-working people in Indonesia.


Despite of all the hard facts in front of our eyes... I believe that Indonesia is not the only country to deal with "workers without privileges". A lot of Asian countries, Middle Eastern countries, and most probably ex-Soviet countries are in this mud together.

Most people will think twice to out-rule their superiors or speak the truth (if there's any harassment, discrimination at work, etc) because they feel "I am lucky enough to still be able to work", so they suck it up, let the issues go.. and so it's like a circle all over again.

Ignorance may come as a bliss, sometimes. But IGNORANCE (alias "pembiaran") at something as basic as Human Right (in this case: at work) will only enhance and strengthen the wrong perceptions about Worker's Right.

Want a good example of someone fighting for Workers Right? Marsinah. and her unsolved case in 1993. Apparently, at that era, she was as good as dead. Read her case from VHR Media.

From: VHR Media.

So, is it too much if I say that "Workers without Privileges" equals to "a modern and sugar-coated slavery"?

From: VHR Media.


What say you?