Tackling the Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic with Transparencies Between Employers and Workers

31 Aug 2020

What can employers and workers do to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic? They can work together. The Better Work Indonesia programme calls for the cooperation between representatives of employers and workers through social dialogues.

 News | Jakarta, Indonesia | 21 July 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic  with its far reaching socio-economic consequences calls for effective bipartite social dialogue and cooperation to design win-win solutions for both parties. To elaborate the importance of bipartite dialogues between employers and workers, Better Work Indonesia, a joint programme of the ILO and International Finance Cooperation (IFC) on labour compliance, conducted an online discussion regarding social dialogue at the workplace.

The discussion was part of the series of the Better Work Indonesia’s social media engagement through live Instagram aired every Sunday. These advocacy series aim to promote win-win solutions for both management and workers in the face of pandemic.

Christianus Panjaitan, the ILO’s Programme Officer for Social Protection, explained about three levels of social dialogue according to the definition of the ILO: information exchange, consultation and negotiation. Ideally, good social dialogues should follow these three steps to reach best solutions for all parties involved.

“Most bipartite social dialogues tend to directly jump to the negotiation level as both management and workers only sit down together when a problem has arisen. The communication system can easily be done by exchanging information in a regular basis. This will promote openness and transparencies between parties so that the negotiation process will run smoothly and generate the best result for all,” he said.

The importance of communication was also recognized by Elly Rosita Silaban, President of the Indonesian Trade Unions Confederation (KSBSI). Unfortunately, she admitted that not all trade unions were opened to the regular communication mechanism as they preferred to stage a protest if a problem occurred.

“There is still a gap between employers and workers that often causes hesitant and suspicious toward one another. We realize that if employers and workers develop a good relation, all employment problems can be resolved in better ways,” she admitted.

The existing gap between employers and workers was in line with the polling conducted through the Instagram poll, revealing that 60 percent of workers said that hesitancy was the biggest challenge they faced to initiate a communication with their employers.

Tackling the Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

To reduce the communication gap between employers and workers, Danang Girindrawardana, Executive Director of the Indonesian Employers’ Association (Apindo), suggested a regular informal talk or discussion that could easily be done during an informal event such as coffee breaks or corporate events. “The discussion should be done regularly and casually and I believe this will create openness and build a good labour-management cooperation,” said Danang.

Highlighting the importance of social dialogue, Christianus reminded both workers and employers that these two parties were united into one team. Both parties needed each other and depended to one another to build a profitable and sustainable business. “To reduce the gap, the communication initiative can be started by the employers. When the trust has been built, the dialogue can be then initiated by either employer or worker,” Christianus added.

The discussion concluded with an agreement on the importance of openness and transparencies in social dialogues. These could further build trust and respect between employers and workers that, in turn, would smoothen the negotiation process as a way to reach win-win solution for both parties. In addition, effective bipartite social dialogue could also resolve economic and social issues, encourage good governance and advance industrial stability.

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