Another interesting issue raised by the TBI Bekasi report is the question of whether expats are entitled to claim THR. The expat teacher at Bekasi explored the issue and even went to the Department of Manpower and it appears that expats are entitled to the payment. TBI, unsurprisingly, has been avoiding its legal obligations in this area for years.
What is THR? People who have worked in Indonesia for a while will know that Indonesian staff receive an extra month’s salary at Lebaran. This is a real help to Muslim Indonesian teachers and staff who incur a lot of extra costs at that time of year. Christian Indonesians also receive the payment: TBI has long employed a large number of Batak staff, for example, and they receive THR too.
Though this payment is a great help for staff on low incomes, it certainly isn’t a welfare based scheme. The amount you receive is one month of your regular salary, so Ibu Ning would have received over fifty million rupiah worth of THR, while a lowly office assistant would have received a measly one million or so. As always in graft and corruption rife Indonesia, the wealthy and powerful rig things in their own favor.
So if the TBI Director, who never struck me as a pious Muslim, can pocket thirty million rupiah THR, why don’t expats get it? Well, perhaps they are entitled to.
Readers of the Bekasi teacher report will recall that he was asked to prove he was a practising Christian and promised he would get it if he could. Now the teacher in question was a man of faith and a regular church goer and he even produced his minister at the meeting with Hery to vouch for this fact. But do you think TBI honored its promises and the laws of Indonesia? Sadly, they once again washed their hands off the whole affair and Binsar, rogue and mock Christian that he is, reneged on his earlier promise and paid only half of his legal responsibilities.TBI’s typically callous and arrogant response was to say they would not intervene to help Binsar’s latest victim. They seem incpable of learning from their mistakes.
Finally, two points. This requirement to prove your religiosity is unequally applied by TBI in a way that is discriminatory against expats. While most Indonesian staff are religious, quite a number practise free sex, drink alcohol and are more likely to worship the newest Android than any religious diety. That is no problem at all to this liberal, gay individualist with New Age spiritual leanings. But I strongly object to expats being asked to prove their faith when Indonesians are not. In reality, it is just a ploy to cheat expat teachers of their legal rights. It shows how much money trumps every moral or religious principle for the Binsars and Mariams of this world.
Secondly it makes no sense for them to deny it to expat teachers based on the fact that THR isn’t in the TBI contract. THR is part of Indonesian workplace law and thus regulates all workplace relationships. TBI’s dodgy contracts do not over-ride national law. Expat teachers should demand their THR back pay today.