The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the reliance on the internet to find and carry out work. The current Indonesian social protection program, however, does not cover individuals working in the digital economy, often labelling these workers as either informal workers or individuals who have non-standard employment (and therefore are not entitled to certain benefits). These workers’ status has only worsened with the newly passed Omnibus Law, which has weakened the positions of trade unions to lobby for digital labourers.
EngageMedia hosted last May 7, 2021, “The Labour Behind the Glamorous Industrial Revolution 4.0”, a webinar that sought to flesh out the realities that workers in the digital space are facing, and the lack of protection Indonesian labour laws are affording them. Joining EngageMedia Digital Rights Program Manager Kathleen Azali in the panel was Armeilia Handayani, advocacy officer for the Trade Union Rights Centre; Christian Panjaitan, national program officer for the International Labour Organisation in Indonesia, and Ivan Sahat Pandjaitan, assistant deputy director of BPJS Ketenagakerjaan. The webinar was moderated by Fathimah Fildzah, researcher for the Centre of Political Research at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences.
At the webinar, the speakers offered the following strategy to expand social protection in Indonesia:
- Use a proportional term to cover wider workforce in accessing social protection and social assistance programs
- Lower the minimum contribution limit
- Provide appropriate and decent benefits
- Flexible mechanisms and requirements
- Ensure that workers’ benefits can be carried over across multiple jobs
- Simplify access to and understanding of social protection
Lastly, the speakers encouraged Indonesian workforce to be actively involved in getting information related to social protection schemes available for them, as well as, taking an active participation through formally registered unions.
The webinar on digital labour is part of EngageMedia’s work to expand digital rights networks in Indonesia. Beginning in May 2021, EngageMedia will be working with civil society organisations in Indonesia to expand the conversation on digital labour. Stay tuned in the coming months as well for more webinars on other pressing digital rights issues in Indonesia.