Saturday, July 05, 2008


It seems GJ has started a bit of a blue with his dismissal
of an errant driver. A relatively common theme being thrown around revolves around some quaint cafe socialist view of the world and the exploitation of an underclass. Which is amusing as often the comments often expose a degree of snobbery by the sanctimonious "Ches" leaving the comments.

No one is denying that some bosses are arseholes and the whole workers obligations and rights thing is a complete buggers muddle in Indonesia (notice we did include obligations, it’s a two way street). However, to assume that working as domestic help is a job choice to be pitied shows a complete misunderstanding of what real life is like for many people in this country (personally the Stump finds the profession of accountants and money men far more pitiful, after all they only parasite from the real work that others have achieved).

There is not enough work for everyone in Indonesia, nor realistically will there be in any foreseeable future. If by employing a maid/driver/gardener some of the wealth is kept locally and just perhaps that money allows the next generation to achieve even a modicum of higher chooling then that has to be a good thing.

Stump stands to be corrected, but is willing to suggest that most Australian Expatriates (this will bring in the crows) influenced by the fairly class less culture tend to treat their employees on fairly informal basis and if would be rare for an employee to be exploited as such.

The Stump regularly gets the sh*ts with the self righteous arseholes who wander through the airport for instance, proclaiming loudly “I don’t need anyone to carry my bag, I am not going to exploit the poor bastards”. Bloody drongos, what does he think the “poor bastard” is going to do if he doesn’t make any money as a porter .. Pop down to the nearest unemployment office and collect a cheque.

Having said that, the Stump like GJ is astounded that some people once locked into a secure and (relatively) well paying job, will then jeopardise the whole thing out of sheer stupidity. Company Stump recently sent a very young, very bright Indonesian (lets call him Bright Spark or BS for short) to Australia for a series of courses. It was made very clear to BS that a new product line was coming into the country and he was to be the guru of all things in that product line and the potential was there for him to reach very senior management. Sure enough, the “live for today” mental trap kicked in and he was caught selling spares of company equipment to a rival company for the sake of a couple of Rp. Shocked and horrified when he was terminated and police were called (ah the police investigation, that’s another story) he lost the job and will never be employed by another expatriate company in the region for wait for it…5 million Rp.

Now the self appointed advocates out there, will say for only 5 million. Give him another chance. Screw that! Company paid for his families hospital stays when they were sick, paid a good wage, paid thousands for international courses and gave him a future that less than 20% of Indonesians will ever see. Basic Trust and honesty was all that was required in return a fair contract and he broke it.

Although to be fair consequences and action –reaction often don’t seem to a consideration to large proportion of the population. Witness the acts of your local motorcycle riders “I ride like lunatic, on the wrong side of the road and don’t look left or right then…SPLAT.” is not a thought pattern that comes naturally.

Another example:

Several years ago, I was staying in a home stay in Kupang, nice Christian family (little weird, like all god botherers but nice). One day the two teenagers in the house come to my room

Them “Hey you wanna come and see where (we) burnt the Muslims houses last night”?

Stump “Eeer Ok”

Yep sure enough a dozen plus houses burnt to the ground and on the way back home

Stump… “Why did they (you) burnt their houses”

Them ….. ‘Because they burnt our church”

Stump… “Mmm Ok”

But it gets better.. ten minutes later we pass a remarkably unburnt church

Stump… “Huh// I thought you said they burnt your church”

Them… Sheepishly “Someone said they did”

But wait gets even better…

About a week later, everyone is sitting around the table and the conversation starts with everyone complaining that the price of fish has tripled and is now a luxury item

Stump… “Hang on..Weren’t those houses that were burnt the homes of the fishermen (as well as being Muslims, it was a fisher village)”

Them.. “Yes why do you ask” ..puzzled looks what’s this bule on about..

Stump “Well if you burn the fisherman's houses then it stands to reason….ah forget it” wandering off down the pub for a fishless dinner..

Consequences …………………… They are a bastard with a life of their own.


Rob Baiton said...


On the maid and driver thing. I have never had a driver because I have never owned a car in Indonesia.

On having a maid. As I pointed out somewhere else, the idea of having a maid to do all the things that I was used to doing for myself took some time in getting used to.

I have a maid now and she is paid above the normal wage level. And here conditions are pretty good.

Domestic helper is a job and it is often the difference between keeping your head above water and succumbing to poverty. It would not necessarily be my job of choice but sometimes we work in jobs that we do not want to or do not enjoy simply because that is what we have to do.

I do not know that I am one of the crows, but I know that my maid is not exploited.

I do not know GJ personally but his reasons were fair for the dismissal in my mind. I have yet to come across expats who terminate employees on any old whim, the breaches are generally severe.

I am for second chances, but that depends on what has been done. Let's face it Indonesian law provides for immediate termination for serious breaches of company regulations. Most company regulations list theft as a serious breach warranting dismissal.

Such is life...

oigal said...

Hey Rob,

First to agree that some people are bastards and it all modesty our company is recognised as fairly desirable to work for. I have made it a personal goal that every employee from secuirty guard to FD doea at least one course a year to better their skills (usually a lot more) and at least 10% of the workforce every year attends international course somewhere. But a couple of core values are "oncers" honesty, non-corruption and non-harrassment in the workplace(mostly religious bias when i first arrived).



oigal said...

"Let's face it Indonesian law provides for immediate termination for serious breaches of company regulations" I would submit this is an debatable point

Anonymous said...

Indonesian law may provide for immediate termination, however in reality it will likely involve the Manpower department who will generally attempt to solve the problem by advising the company to pay out the employee to make him go away.

Also, I would add that if you think expatriates employee their staff, try checking out how nationals treat their domestic staff. Around here they are paid half of what the expat staff earn, and in some of the worse cases, expected to supply their own food as well (having cooked for the family they are working for).


rimafauzi said...

funny story what happened in Kupang!

Rob Baiton said...


The law does provide for immediate termination. Debatable, perhaps.

Without a doubt the Department of Labor and Transmigration will get involved. Generally, though theft is considered to be a serious breach and one that is subject to termination.

On to GJ's case. Domestic staff are unregulated and as such can be dismissed on a whim.

There are probably nasty expats out there who exploit their staff. My point was merely that I had not met any.


Jakartass said...

"Let's face it Indonesian law provides for immediate termination for serious breaches of company regulations."

Assume first that the company actually has regulations. Next assume that there are procedures for termination of employment.

Finally, assume that everything is done according to procedures and that The Industrial Relations Court backs up the Department of Manpower's recommendation.

Assumptions based on Indonesian laws and regulations are of little value I have found.

If you want facts, however .......