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Legislating for Labour Protection: Betting on the Weak or the Strong?


  • Chris Manning



This paper approaches the subject of labour standards from the standpoint of domestic labour market circumstances rather than international norms. The paper assesses government approaches to improving standards in the context of Indonesia's daunting 'employment challenge', and the capacity of institutions to implement reform since the fall of Soeharto. The discussion of recent reforms is divided into two parts: the affirmation of basic rights and freedoms, and legislation for the protection 'Survival' and 'Security' Rights. We find that while the protection of labour freedoms is long overdue, there is mounting evidence that regulation of setting labour standards in the modern sector benefits the few with 'better' jobs. It penalises many less fortunate Indonesians in the informal sector and agriculture, and also younger, new job seekers. Owing to a significant improvement in Basic and Civil Rights, the compliance regime in relation to labour standards has altered dramatically in recent years. This has closed the gap between rhetoric and reality: between formal ratification and the actual impact of labour regulations on labour costs, while giving no obvious boost to productivity. It is of concern especially in those internationally labour-intensive industries such as textiles footwear and clothing TCF, where Indonesia has had a comparative advantage in the past.

Suggested Citation

  • Chris Manning, 2004. "Legislating for Labour Protection: Betting on the Weak or the Strong?," Departmental Working Papers 2004-08, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:pas:papers:2004-08

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Manning,Chris, 1998. "Indonesian Labour in Transition," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521594127, March.
    2. Alatas, Vivi & Cameron, Lisa, 2003. "The impact of minimum wages on employment in a low income country : an evaluation using the difference-differences approach," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2985, The World Bank.
    3. Nirvikar Singh, 2004. "The Impact of International Labor Standards: A Survey of Economic Theory," International Trade 0412007, EconWPA.
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    More about this item


    Labour Standards; Labour Rights; Employment; Indonesia;

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy
    • J80 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - General
    • J88 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Public Policy

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