Indonesia: Journalist wins case against employer

A former journalist with Berita Satu TV won an important case for workers’ rights in Indonesia, with his former employee ordered to pay severance and pending salary on October 9. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia to welcome the court decision and call on the company to respect workers' rights.

Jekson Simanjuntak, on the left side wearing a plaid shirt at trial Credit: AJI Jakarta

Management of Berita Satu TV unilaterally terminated the employment of Jekson Simanjuntak on October 12, 2018, for being absent from work from October 6 to 11, 2018. During this period, Simanjuntak, a member of the union branch of AJI Jakarta, was on assignment with AJI Jakarta to establish media centers in Palu and Donggala after the Central Sulawesi area was hit by an earthquake and tsunami. Simanjuntak submitted his annual paid leave before leaving Jakarta to travel to Central Sulawesi.

Article 168 of Indonesia’s Labor Law says that employers can only terminate the employment of workers if they have been absent from work for no less than five consecutive workdays without submitting a written reasons supplemented by evidence. At such time, the employer must write to the workers with an interval of three days between each letter. On October 8, 2018 Berita Satu sent Simanjuntak a letter requesting a meeting with the human resources department. The company sent a second letter on October 9, 2018.

At the trial, Simanjuntak represented himself with support from AJI Jakarta and the Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers). In the court’s reasoning the judge emphasized the letters were less than required three days.

The court ordered Berita Satuto pay the severance and pending salaries from November 2018 to April 2019. The period refers to the time when the company terminated his employment until the court released its verdict.

Chairman of AJI Indonesia, Abdul Manan, said the verdict set an important  precedent for unions. “The decision of the court will be useful for our reference if we are facing the labor disputes between journalists and the media. We hope that in this case, Berita Satu, will obey the decision of the court,” Abdul added.

The IFJ said: “We welcome the verdict and congratulate Simanjuntak as well as AJI and LBH Pers on their efforts to fight for media worker’s rights in Indonesia. This is proof of the importance of worker's power. We urge Berita Satu to ensure it meets its legal obligations to pay Simanjuntak’s severance and unpaid salary.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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