Issue No: 80 January-April 2012
By Yohana Sudarsono
“It has been months since I was struck by the fact that I was being non-job as a result of my struggle for better working situation and welfare for my co-workers and other employees, and especially for initiating a worker union in my workplace, yet until today I am still feeling so bothered and weary. It is such an irony that a TV Station that once I thought was a human right defender, is actually just another human right violent and UNION-BUSTER!”
- Luviana Ariyanti
Luviana Ariyanti, a female Journalist in MetroTV had been released from her duty (non-job) as a Producer’s Assistant for fighting for workers’ welfare and freedom to associate. I did not know her in person yet at that time... but I do am familiar with the TV station she worked in, as my favorite TV Station, broadcasting nationally.
Audience in Indonesia recognized MetroTV as a TV Station that always promote human rights and justice practices along their programs. It is almost a dream for Indonesians to have a national TV station with qualified programs, yet MetroTV was one of those that can be put in front of the national eyes that it was not impossible to have good TV station with qualified programs along the days. Metro TV was also known with their propaganda toward Restoration of Indonesia, enforcement of laws, protection for human rights and justice defenders. So, it is a tragedy to know that all they displayed and campaigned these long is actually only big lies. Indeed, we should not judge a book by its cover. The fact that they have committed union busting, violenced human rights by preventing Luviana and her co-workers from realizing their freedom to associate and practiced double standard on their employment system has uncovered their real colour.
As then I knew shortly that after her nine years of service, Luviana was being non-jobbed by the management with no adequate reason, of which reminded me of my own case. Not only that she was being released from her duty, Luviana and her two co-workers had also been asked to resign without any clarification after they urged the editorial management to reform their broadcasting policy.
As a journalist who has been working in MetroTV since October 1, 2002, it surely has become her nature to be critical. During her employment, her colleagues and she found crucial issues in the Editorial Management. They realized that there is no access of decent communication between the editorial management and journalists especially producers and assistants to producers, no clear evaluation or appraisal system toward employees’ working performance, and no objective indicators to evaluate their working performance. Working appraisal was given based on like/dislike standard that resulted in the gap on the career and salary adjustment between employees, as seen from the fact that two employees with the same position, responsibility and year-of-service can receive different salary and different reward, and there are some policies that are very subjective entitled to the employees merely based on the interest of the newsroom authority and the owner of the TV station. Many journalist experienced force and pressure from the editorial management who arrange the contents of the news.
This situation has been on-going for years without any signs of improvements or changes, even when the employees have continually given inputs and conducted discussion with the editorial management regarding to the issues. During those period of time, Luviana and her colleagues have been questioning the discrimination practices regarding to the employees’ salary benchmark and facilities and exploitation toward those who are in the position of Assistant to Producer (AP) where they must deliver duties and take responsibilities on the producer level with their salary standard for position of Assistants.
Luviana and colleagues urged the management to provide clear appraisal standard and evaluation system for their working performance. Yet, all their attempts didn’t meet any results. Experiencing the resistance from the management, Luviana and her colleagues started to gather and initiate an organisation as the first attempt to form worker union. They have studied that workers need a union to bridge their interest and aspiration to be communicated with the management as individual or group efforts to negotiate with the management always meet no results.
Luviana and her colleagues shared the idea to form a union to other colleagues and received positive responses from them since the discrimination practices have been experienced by most employees in other units as well.
After months being non-job, on December 22, 2011, without early notice, Luviana was transferred to the other program. In this new program, Luviana provided evaluation due to some issues that she considered violated human right values and gender insensitive. One example was that in “Metro Malam” Program, they continually broadcasted vividly the faces of women who were chased by the police in an operation, arrested and accused as prostitutes. In some other times, they broadcasted pictures of violence and victims vulgarly. Luviana explained to them that those kinds of broadcast have violated the Decision of The Broadcasting Commision on Broadcasting Code of Conducts and the Standard of Broadcasting Program and Journalism Code of Ethics.
Yet, instead of giving her positive response and make improvements or change, the Editorial Management considered Luviana too critical and such a rebel.
The discrimination and resistance from the management had made 30 producers and producers’ assistants resign. On January after questioning again about some other issues that was not responded by the management,
Luviana was released officially from her duty and was advised to sign the resignation and severance papers and have been promised an amount of severance as stated in the Law of Manpower No. 13 / 2003.
Regardless of the fact that her other co-workers had signed the papers and took the severance, Luviana continued her struggle by refusing to sign the resignation letter handed by the management, even when the management stated that Luviana had been declared as resigning from Metro TV. Since that day, Luviana became a stranger in her own workplace. She kept coming as regular employee, though during those days, she received intimidation from the management by not letting her enter the office building and asking the security guards to force her to leave.
During that time, Luviana was supported by the Alliance of Independent Journalist Jakarta (AJI JAK) and Press Legal Aid (LBH Pers) for negotiation to the management. The AJI JAK and LBH Pers urged the management to reinstate Luviana back to her position. Somehow, the management only promised to give a thought yet remain no decision. The negotiation has been done several times with no good result. On February 27, 2012, Metro TV registered Mediation to the Department of Manpower, West Jakarta.
In the Labour Law in Indonesia, registering mediation is an indication of a “lay-off” process. During this time, Luviana received tremendous supports from national networks in Aliansi Melawan Topeng Restorasi (Aliansi Metro/Metro Alliance). The Alliance of Fight Against Restoration Mask (an alliance consisting of labour unions, press alliance, press legal aid and other organisations to support Luviana’sstruggle) had also conducted some rallies and campaigns to support her yet remained no results.
After a long mediation and negotiation, the Mediators of the The Department of Manpower released a recommendation that again accomodating the management’s wish to terminate her employment. Both the management of MetroTV and Luviana do have chance to reject or to accept the recommendation and/or continue the case to Court of Industrial Disputes.
Rejecting the recommendation of the Mediators mentioned, on June 5th 2012, the Aliansi Melawan Topeng Restorasi (The Alliance of Metro) and Luviana made a rally to the Headquarter of Nasional Demokrat Party (the party formed by the owner of Metro TV, Surya Paloh- a politician in Indonesia). During that rally, Luviana finally met Surya Paloh who promised to reinstate Luviana back to MetroTV, and asked for further discussion on June 7th 2012. However, the June 7th meeting was cancelled since Surya Paloh should go for medical check-up, and since then Luviana could not meet that owner of MetroTV again and Surya Paloh has failed to keep his promise to reinstate Luviana back to her position. Even worst, on July 5th 2012, Metro TV has succeeded to turn this case into merely an industrial relationship disputes. After a promise from the owner of MetroTV, who is also a Politician, Surya Paloh that the will reinstate Luviana back to her position, of which has never been fulfilled, finally MetroTV terminated Luviana completely from her employment and stopped paying her salary that against the Indonesian labour law since employment termination should be legalised through the Court of Industrial Dispute.
Luviana is still continuing her struggle. Her fight is not her own fight but the fights of million workers in the world against injustice and human rights violation. We might not know each other, just as once I did not know Luviana personally, but we are gathered by the same belief that the fight against injustice and for human rights must be done and never stopped. Luviana must be supported to continue her fight. Luviana must stay in MetroTV, and make a change there.
Metro TV has been bombarded their audience for years with their idea of Restoration of Indonesia. It is indeed a big dream... A dream that will remain as a dream if they do not wake up now! MetroTV needs Luviana Aryanti there, to remind them to stop their lies, to wake them up, and to keep them awake so that they will be able to realize their BIG dream, Restoration of Indonesia.
Luviana’s fight must be done and must be continued to take the management of MetroTV back to the ground and face the reality that Restoring Indonesia without restoring themselves first is NONSENSE!