The History of Indonesian Labour Law (Part II)

After Independence (1945-1965)

Three years after independence, the new Republic issued Labour Act No. 12 of 1948. The Act regulated young workers, female workers, working hours and employers’ obligations for workplace protection. The regulatory objective behind the Act is clearly to step away from the liberal Civil Code that let the market dictate labour rights and responsibilities. It imposed some of the rights and protections that may not reasonably negotiate through the liberal Civil Code employment regulatory scheme. The fact the Civil Code did very little to protect native Indonesian is also likely to be one of the considerations. At this very early stage, labour regulations only provided basic protections. In other words, the Act is issued to define employment relations, and the rights and responsibility entail rather than merely leave it to market power. The parties in the market itself drastically altered after the colonial ruler forced to leave the newly established countries, leaving labours as a vulnerable group that should be protected to achieve social equilibrium.

The Labour Act was preceded by Workplace Accident Act No. 33 of 1947 and followed by Law No. 23 of 1948 on Labour Inspection, Law No. 21 of 1954 on Labour Agreement between Employer and Union, Law No. 18 of 1956 on Ratification of ILO Convention No. 98, Ministry of Manpower Regulation No. 90 of 1955 on Union Registration Law No. 22 of 1957 on Industrial Relations Dispute Settlement.  The laws and regulations in question were not effective in practice as the new Republic of Indonesia was still politically and administratively struggling to find its form. Additionally, labour unions activities were closely monitored and regulated to avoid political insurgency. Nonetheless, despite these challenges, they set a cornerstone to modern Indonesian Labour Regulations.

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