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Religious holiday allowance should not be deferred

25 May, 2020Unions in Indonesia have sent a protest letter to the government after a circular was issued, saying that if employers are unable to pay the religious allowance (THR) during the coronavirus crisis, it can be paid by installments or deferred to a date agreed by both employers and workers.

According to Indonesian law, employers have to pay one month of THR to workers employed for more than 12 months. The allowance is to be paid out seven days before major celebrations of the six religions; Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

IndustriALL Global Union’s ten affiliates in Indonesia submitted a protest letter to the Ministry of Manpower on 12 May, calling on the government to revoke the decision on deferment on religious holiday allowance (THR) for workers.

Criticizing the circular as inhuman, IndustriALL Indonesia council chairperson Iwan Kusmawan says that workers are already suffering from workplace closures due to Covid-19, and some workers are receiving only 50 per cent of their wages.

“The deferment of THR before the Eid Al-Fitr is inhuman and a big blow. There is no level playing field for unions and employers in the bargaining process; this will give employers extra leeway to justify not paying THR amid the health crisis. This is adding insult to workers’ injury.”

The head of advocacy of Indonesian Chemical, Energy and Mines Workers Union (CEMWU), Saeful Anwar says:

“The circular goes against the interest of workers during the Covid-19 crisis. Official statistics show 2.8 million job losses so far, the Ministry of Manpower must fulfil its responsibility to protect the rights and benefits of workers.”

IndustriALL regional secretary Annie Adviento is urging the Indonesian government to review the circular and oblige employers to immediately pay THR.

“Thousands of workers in unions affiliated to IndustriALL, particularly those who work in the textile, garment, shoe and leather industry, have been either been laid off or furloughed due to Covid-19. It is time Indonesian employers shoulder the  responsibility to support the livelihood of workers in the country.”