Bali Hotel Workers Protest Illegal Firings

Hundreds of unemployed and still-employed hotel workers in Bali descended on the Provincial House of Representatives (Bali-DPRD) in central Denpasar on Thursday, 17 August 2020.

The protestors called on Bali’s legislators to summon hotel owners in Bali who unilaterally terminated workers’ employment, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as their justification.

Indonesian labor law requires that employment termination can only be done on a bilateral, negotiated process in which severance benefits must be jointly agreed and paid.

They urged the Bali DPRD to summon hotel entrepreneurs who unilaterally terminated employees (PHK), citing the Covid-19 pandemic as their reason.

As reported by NusaBali, those demonstrating before the House of Representatives were former employees of hotels located in Nusa Dua, Tanjung Benoa, South Kuta, and Denpasar. Among the protestors were people who once worked at, among other hotels, the Hotel Sofitel, Hotel Sakala, Hotel Camakila, and Fairmont Hotel on Sanur Beach. All were protesting under the banner of the Federation of Regional Independent Workers’ Unions in Bali (Federasi Serikat Pekerja Mandiri Regional Bali).

The protesters were comprised of still actively employed hotel workers and individuals who have been unilaterally dismissed during the global pandemic. 

The hundreds of protestors were received in the public hall of the House (Wantilan DPRD-Bali) by the deputy-chairman of the DPRD-Bali, Nyoman Sugawa Korry, the chairman of Commission IV I Gusti Putu Budiarta, the deputy-chairman of Commission IV I Wayan Disel Astawa, and a member of Commission IV Ni Wayan Sari Galung.

Commission IV of the DPRD-Bali is charged with matters concerning public welfare with a specific focus on several areas, including labor and tourism.

Accompanying the large groups of protestors to the House of Representatives was the secretary of the Federation of Regional Independent Workers’ Unions in Bali, Ida I Dewa Made Raitanpa Budi Darsana. Speaking before the gathering, Budi Darsana bemoaned that employers had used the COVID-19 pandemic as a justification to operate outside the law and unilaterally terminate hotel workers. Adding: “We call on DPR workers to fight for workers’ rights. Workers have been dismissed unilaterally on the grounds of the Covid-19 pandemic. We ask leaders in Bali to immediately reopen the tourism sector.”

Meanwhile, the deputy chairman of the DPRD-Bali, Nyoman Sugawa Korry, promised the large gathering that the House would soon summon the Provincial Head of Manpower and Mineral Resources and the Provincial Chief of Tourism. He affirmed that, in any case, it is not permitted under Indonesian law to unilaterally terminate a worker’s employment, as such actions are disruptive to maintaining a harmonious relationship between workers and their employers.

“The DPRD Bali stands ready to summon hotel owners, the Manpower Office, and the Tourism Office. We want to make sure there are no layoffs that do not follow the law,” said Sugawa Korry.

Sugawa Korry also called on Bali Governor, Wayan Koster, to compel companies in Bali to set aside a portion of their profits to ensure workers’ rights can be honored. “If there is a pandemic, such as now is the case, there will funds available to meet the contingencies. I will personally fight so that this contingency can be included in future regulations,” he said.

The chairman of Commission IV, I Gusti Putu Budiartha, reminded that unilateral termination of employment is not allowed under the law, especially in a tourism area such as Bali.

Continuing, Budiartha said: “We will fight for this. The Governor of Bali has already issued instructions forbidding layoffs amid the pandemic. If unilateral layoffs have occurred, the employers must be sanctioned.”

Urging a quick remedial action that would cause even wider unemployment, Budiartha said the Province should revoke the business permits for any business found to be laying off their workers in ways that violate labor regulations. “Go ahead, just revoke the business license if a company violates labor laws,” Budiartha said.

Adding his opinion, the deputy-chairman of Commission IV, Wayan Disel Astawa, declared his readiness to defend the rights of workers who have been unilaterally dismissed by their employers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The Covid-19 pandemic is a shared experienced by all countries in the world. However, it is inhumane to deprive long-term workers of their legal rights to look for cheaper, new workers. The long-term workers have generated lots of profits for their employers,” said Astawa.

Separately, Bali Tribune estimates that 74,000 workers in Bali have been placed on involuntary home leave with no-pay or partial-pay, and some 3,000 workers have been terminated from their employment. The secretary of the Federation of Regional Independent Workers’ Unions in Bali said: “For certain, there are still many more hotel workers who have been dismissed but are unable to defend their legal rights and are compelled to simply receive their (illegal) dismissal).”

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