Why Daily Workers Deserve The Salary Raise

Dear Employers,

Please Pay Attention To Your Daily Workers

They are the ones who deserve the UMK Raise.

On the 5th of July 2017, ABC news Australia reported that The Australian Council of Trade Unions have campaigned for the right of casual workers to request permanent employment if they work regular hours over a year.

They believed a “casual conversion provision” was necessary to make sure employers did not keep people on casual contracts indefinitely.

Their most recent demands have included equal take-home pay for casuals and permanents that do the same job.

However, it does not mean that they are automatically entitled to be converted to a permanent position.

In Indonesia, we use the term Daily Worker to employees who are not part of the permanent workforce, but who supply services on an irregular or flexible basis, often to meet a fluctuating demand for work.

The majority of them work in hotels, villas, and restaurants.

Some of the reasons why they work wonders for companies in Bali are as following:

1. Casual employees are engaged on an as-needs-basis, and can help increase flexibility in their workplace. Engaging employees on a casual basis gives them the ability to increase staffing levels during your busiest months, whilst providing you the ability to reduce wages when times are tough.

2. It also gives them no string attached because they are not entitled to time off for annual leave, severance pay, maternal leave, annual religious holiday allowance, and it is easier to dismiss them than those in permanent positions.

3. These vulnerable workers are easily exploited because many of them are fresh graduated and low educated applicants who are often unaware of their legal rights and are not always protected by our local worker unions who in many cases will only represent the permanent staffs.

In addition, many of them can keep going and run their business with peace because most of the time, they take advantage of the employee’s reluctance to file a violation report due to the fear that they will be ignored by the manpower department and who already assumed they will lose the case anyway due to employer’s bribing.

It is exacerbated by a phenomenon that Professor Geert Hofstede in his interview with Harvard Business Review called “power distance” in which the degree to which less powerful members of institutions and organizations accept that power is distributed unequally and how the lower level person will unfailingly defer to the higher level person, and feel relatively okay with that as it is as the natural order which is a pretty common notion in Indonesia.

4. Because our Manpower Department has not yet drafted a specific policy to punish the employees who are willing to accept below UMK wages, they can always capitalize on the a massive influx of Indonesian impoverished migrants who are still happy to take on the figure turned down by the Balinese workers.

For the employees, some of the perks of being a daily worker are:

1. It allows individuals to fit their work around their lifestyles especially for those who prioritize work life balance.

2. When the employers obey the law, daily worker may receive a higher base rate of pay to compensate them for not accruing certain entitlements such as annual leave or employment security

3. Because of reduced risk, unskilled candidates without tertiary qualifications or recent graduates an opportunity to prove themselves.

Now, what is my problem?

For the past few months, I had the chance to talk and listen to the underrepresented daily workers. As much as they are able to be grateful for the job opportunity given to them, many of them feel they are treated unfairly by the companies they work for which they feel too afraid to speak up about and I do hope, my explanation below will help you understand and empathize with their current and common struggles.

I have read at the comment section from my previous post, how some foreign group members believe that all employees in Bali only receive basic UMK.

Let me tell you that this opinion is ignorant and here is what I have learned.

In many hotels, villas, and restaurants, permanent staffs will likely to receive:

1. Basic salary

2. Equally distributed or a top down service charge

3. Gratuities for the waiters and waitresses

4. Lunch and gas for their transportation

5. Annual religious allowance

6. Generous severance pay even when they are proven incompetent during their tenure or their work performance is stagnant

7. Health insurance

8. State pension fund

9. Some higher level of management like Chefs who are not rewarded service charge are even offered profit sharing

10. Annual leave and in some hotels, some even get other types of holiday that are not always given for Western staffs

In real estate agency, many sales staff are given basic salary or even lower than that as a motivation to increase their income derived from 5% — 10% commission. In one spa in Ubud I know, a staff will receive Rp. 900.000 but with 12% commission. In some shops, the staffs also receive a percentage from the total monthly net revenue.

According to some reports, it is allegedly pretty common that certain senior staffs such as the concierge, butler, or those who are in charge at the front office department make underhanded extra money from direct guest’s requests for motorbike or car’s rental and personalized tours. It can also happen at the kitchen where some staffs will make quick bucks from the backroom deals they do with their selected suppliers.

Please also remember that not everyone lives independently like the majority of people in the Western countries. Many male staffs are given house or land inheritance and the majority of them still live with their parents. It does not mean that their expenses are lower compared to the ones who live alone because they are often required to give back to their elderly who no longer have a job. But at least, they are not always concerned about the roof over their head.

I can speak for the Balinese that a large amount of their income goes to their religious rituals. Some people I know who are highly educated and has high echelon career have firmer boundaries with their expenses and spend accordingly based on their income even with the risk of offending their relatives and being ostracized by them.

At the same, there are many cases in which they are lack discipline that they spend more than what they earn and even get a loan to keep up with their appearances. This is even harder when they live in a sought after areas where most of your neighbors who get rich by selling their lands can afford more expensive offering, wedding celebrations, and even funeral because you will likely to compare what they have.

In my observation, that there are more Balinese will prefer to do everything they can to adhere to the rules enacted by their village councils even when it means choosing to be overwhelmed by debt instead of being marginalized.

I am proud of certain aspects of my culture and yet I am going to admit it can be very demanding too especially for those with lower income like one woman I talked to in Canggu.

She worked in construction to help her husband. She earned okay money and she did not mind with this physical work which has often invited sympathy from the Western visitors and yet her major misery was how she was never able to enjoy her income for herself because it has been used for ceremonies and the education of her kids. It is not even enough that she will still need to sell offerings for more income.

Many of my Balinese fellows will deem me the bad guy after revealing this but according to a research performed by our local statistic department; Balinese religious offering has been the second biggest cause of Bali’s inflation.

Our Indonesian Hinduism Society has denied this because they claim they have simplified their rules and offered a more reasonable solutions and yet because I still see examples of how the member of our community fail at their budgeting skill, I am afraid bigger salary will only create bigger expenses and the price of the offerings will also soar.

Not to mention that some male employees have acute gambling issue like cockfighting. I believe there is no amount of money will be enough for those who refuse to remove themselves from their old environment and this is not the employer’s responsibility to take care of them.

Meanwhile, with the same amount of responsibility and even longer working hours and the same level of basic living costs and needs, these are what many daily workers often experience:

1. In Australia, one of the advantages of working as a casual employee is a higher hourly pay rate than equivalent full time or part time employees. Also known as, ‘casual loading’ is extra money paid to casual workers above the normal hourly work other employees get paid in the same job. Casual loading is compensation for the uncertainty or lack of benefits you receive as a casual worker.

Legally, in Indonesia, according to Pasal 17 ayat (2) Permenaker 7/2013, it is stated that the calculation for daily worker’s salary in a company with 6 days a week working policy should receive the total of UMK divided by 25 days and for those with 5 days a week working policy should apply similar rule divided by 21 days for their daily rate.

Unfortunately, many revealed they received less or given the total UMK even after they worked for 30 days. They did not always know about this calculation.

Now, imagine how they feel when they work as hard as and sometimes even harder than their peers for who are already permanent staffs but they only receive basic salary and let alone the outsourcing staffs whose basic salary was cut for about 3% by the outsourcing companies?

I can imagine how envy and dissatisfaction runs deep and affect their performance.

I wish foreign owners will always be better but I have learned that instead of studying about our law, many only follow common practice and what their friends do about it.

2. Many of them even at the 5 stars hotel are given long term daily worker contract which has never existed in our law.

According to Pasal 12 KEPMEN №100 Tahun 2004, daily workers can only work less than 21 days in a month and when they are requested to work more than that in three consecutive months, their status is automatically permanent. Some daily workers confessed how they were given a long term daily worker contract and one is even 3 years long with no security to become a permanent staff.

Some people focus more on their salary and some others are motivated by employment security. One foreign employer told me how she chooses to only use permanent staffs because she has observed poor performance of candidates who are not given a long term security.

Many permanent staffs simply told them to quit their job and find a new one somewhere else but I can also empathize with how daily workers are afraid if they move to other companies, they will be demanded to start from daily workers again, with no security, and they will have to adjust to a new environment.

3. Pasal 3 ayat 1 Permenaker 7/2016 outlines that service charge is given to all workers including the ones with fixed term contracts in which daily worker is a part of, but many of them divulged they never received it.

I even assume some employers who do not employ human resource staff do not even know about this law.

Some of you may want to point your finger to Manpower Department for their lack of enforcement and I will not blame you for this but let me tell you what is happening.

First of all they are understaffed. They are also not given a budget to do an inspection. This is very common in any governmental institution and therefore they often choose to wait and start kicking some ass when they receive reports from the disgruntled employees.

Do not be too comfortable about it because I have been in a direct communication with them and provided some suggestions about things they can improve. One of what I proposed is trying to get senior high schools and universities to have a special curriculum that will cover and teach about the labor rights so once the fresh graduates enter the workforce, not only they have the knowledge about what they are supposed to do at their job, but also their legal rights.

The website of the Bali’s manpower is not always updated especially when they have new regulations which can be accessed and studied by our workers and I already filed a complaint. I am disappointed and frustrated that they do not hire English speaking staffs or do not hire a translator who can provide their updated laws in English too.

Sadly the Union Workers often take the side of permanent staffs and I was told that in some hotels, it is the permanent staffs who refuse to share the service charge equally to the daily workers.

I can empathize that one of the reasons why they did it in the first place was because the permanent staffs pay for a monthly or annual fee for their assistance.

I can understand that when you are used to a certain lifestyle and income and who have been through the period of uncertainty just like the daily workers, it will be hard for them to lose their comfort zones especially if the daily workers are not yet competent.

However, I believe some who already showed dedication for years and are given the same level of responsibilities deserve that.

I also want you to understand that the workers themselves have role in this and yet again, I can understand why they are afraid to file a report and demand their rights.

In our culture that tend to be non — confrontational, being upfront about what you want is sometimes considered inappropriate, unethical, or even offensive.

Not only will they get fired when they dare to speak up, some of them are even ostracized by their colleagues for breaking the boat and threaten their earnings.

In Indonesia, I have met both employers with good and bad leadership. And I learned that both local and foreign employers will still prefer obedient staffs they can control.

I have experienced it myself when I worked for some employers who specifically emphasized from the beginning how they want a smart and strong candidate and yet when I assert and challenged my opinions especially when I reminded them about our manpower laws, I was not considered an asset but a threat or a trouble maker.

I can imagine how this can happen to many daily workers too.

One reported that once they reported a violation, their relationship and dynamic with their employers are fractured and they will often choose to quit.

Finally, I believe there are many good employers who care for their staffs and perhaps unaware of the legal rights of the daily workers and with all due respect, as a human being, I am asking you to pay attention to the competent ones and simply follow the rule and give them certain percentage of service charge to compensate the employment insecurity and the absence of benefits which are only rewarded to the permanent staffs.

Raising basic UMK for hotel’s permanent staffs when we are oversupplied by the empty ones and how the cut throat competition not only with other hotels but also villas, bungalows, Airbnb is reckless.

If there are workers who deserve to receive Rp. 3.600.000 as the basic UMK, it is them and the outsourcing staffs.