Part 2. Contract Negotiations and Problems
The salary offered was Rp9 million per month for 24 hours a week and Rp100,000 per hour for overtime. I knew this was a low salary for TBI but compared to my EF salary of Rp7 million it was an improvement. As it was my second year teaching I knew that the pay is still low in the ESL market for your first two years and then increases dramatically as better jobs are available, so for those reasons I was happy to accept the salary, but I wouldn’t say it was a good salary except for staying there until you found something better. Binsar had been paying P**** the other teacher his salary in cash which we thought was a bit suss as it reaked of off-balance sheet accounting (i.e. fraud of some kind) so in my contract it did state that he should pay by bank transfer so I asked him to pay by bank transfer and he has done so ever since me asking. However, incidentally, at the same time he opened another account with a different bank to pay my salary (why? I don’t know). I know this because we both opened the accounts at the same time and so it was he who suggested that I open my account with that particular bank.
All through my contract period Binsar has paid my salary in full, plus overtime, on the last day of the month with no problems. At the time of signing my contract, Binsar said he wouldn’t refund my flight from Hong Kong as he said he wasn’t obliged to. I thought that was strange as it was generally policy with most language schools to reimburse flights. So it wasn’t mentioned in the contract but I was ok at the time as it wasn’t mentioned in the negative and I thought that I would look into the law and would then be able to challenge. So later I did look into the law for foreign workers. Article 48 in the Manpower Act for foreign workers does mention an employer’s obligation to repatriate the employee to their country of origin. However, when I raised this with the Depnaker office in Bekasi they said that as I signed the contract in Indonesia then Binsar was right that he wasn’t obliged to provide an airfare reimbursement.
The second problem I had with Binsar was concerning the issue of THR (Religious Holiday Allowance). I didn’t know about THR when I signed the contract and no mention was made of it. However, as I was researching about airfare reimbursement I found out that as a practising Christian I was legally eligble for a THR payment amounting to pro-rata 1 months salary. As I signed my contract in February and Christmas is December that would amount to 11/12 of 1 months’ salary. I first raised this with Binsar in November 2012 a good six weeks before Christmas, so plenty of time for him to arrange the necessary finances. At that time he refused outright saying “No way! We don’t do that here!”. So I emailed yourself and got the contact for Ibu Mariam. She put me in touch with Hery, the TBI Franchise Manager, and Tuti the TBI HR Manager. They contacted the owner of TBI Bekasi, Pak Basuki, and I recieved an email from Hery saying that Pak Basuki agreed to pay THR pro-rata (emails included in seperate file) and they invited me to a meeting with TBI management on December 12th.
Present at that meeting were myself and my priest who had come to confirm I was a Christian and mediate on my behalf, Hery, Tuti and Binsar. Pak Basuki had been invited but had refused to come and during my whole time at TBI Bekasi I never once had any
personal contact with him. In the meeting Binsar went against the previous assurance I had from Pak Hery that Pak Basuki would pay THR pro-rata and Binsar said as a foreigner I was ineligible and he wouldn’t pay. But he said if I were eligible “then of course he would pay pro rata”. To confirm at this meeting all that was raised was that I was either ineligible and would recieve 0% or I was eligible and would recieve 100% pro-rata payment. At this point TBI Management washed their hands of the whole thing. Pak Hery refused to get involved or provide anymore assistance. They simply let Binsar willingly break the law and mistreat his employees with no repercussions.
So the next day we went to the Depnaker who confirmed about the airfare issue but said they couldn’t comment on THR as the legal deadline for Binsar to pay of December 18th hadn’t yet passed so he hadn’t broken the law. But they suggested that we sort it out internally implying that I was eligble and that he should pay. The next week we then met again myself Binsar and my priest. At this point Binsar conceded that foreigners were eligible but that as it wasn’t in the contract he would only pay 50%.
I initially refused as I wasn’t expecting a 50% offer as the issue had been either I was eligible or not. In the New Year I re-read my contract and found that there is a clause which covers THR. In the renumeration section of the contract it states “Payment for the Employee’s personal income tax on salary and all allowances levied by the Republic of Indonesia will be the responsibility of the Employer.”
As THR is an allowance I told him that he was both contractually and legally obliged to pay THR. He refused and said 50% take it or leave it. I took advice from the Depnaker and they said that to take him to tribunal would be both expensive, I would need to hire a lawyer, and time-consuming as Bekasi is part of West Java I would have to travel to Bandung and the process may take over a year. So he advised to take the 50% as it was better than nothing. In my experience you can’t trust anything that TBI says. Pak Basuki had told Pak Hery he would pay pro-rata THR only to be overuled by Binsar. Binsar had said previously in the meeting of December 12th he would pay all pro-rata if I was eligble but went back on his word. Even when the contract did include allowances Binsar refused to honour his contractual and legal obligations. For these reasons I have no other option but to say that Binsar is a liar and a cheat and anyone doing business with him should trust him as much as a slippery eel.