Companies are Still not Fulfilling their Promises to Hire Workers Locally.

(Merauke, Sept 2013) Compaines operating within the framework of MIFEE, the large-scale food and energy mega-project in Merauke, are still not meeting their commitments to recruit local people to their work force. However, when negotiating to use customary land, companies often promise to use local labour.

In Kampung Zanegi, where PT Selaras Inti Semesta (SIS – owned by Medco) has operated an industrial timber plantation since 2010, only 39 people from Zanegi were employed as of May 2013.

Natalis Basik-Basik commented, “SIS has only recently employed 17 more local people this year. In 2001 only one person was working there, which increased to eleven people in 2010, but then was eight people in 2011 and only 2 in 2012.” All in all these numbers are very small when compared to the hundreds of employees who come from outside Zanegi or even from outside Papua. What’s more, most of the job for local workers are only as helpers, and 30 people are employed casually, without a contract.

“When SIS’s operations first started, many young people and adult men were recruited as chainsaw operators, daily casual workers and truck drivers. However, after only three months, workers from Zanegi were told to stop – the reason given was that they were no longer needed”, said Ernez Kaize, Zanegi’s village head.

In Kampung Domande, sugar-cane plantation companies PT Karya Bumi Papua and PT Cenderawasih Jaya Mandiri (both owned by the Rajawali Group), have been operating since 2011 but there are only six young people from Domande who work for the company without a contract.

The companies have stipulated their conditions for employment based on having full documentation, educational standard and skills or training. These conditions make it difficult for villagers who usually can only offer their limited experience and physical strength. Yet their hopes to be contracted by the company hinge on meeting these conditions. They cannot compete with other workers from Merauke city, including many who have origins outside Papua.

The wages that non-contract workers earn can be described as low, certainly not a decent wage. Yunus, a young man from Kampung Domande related that he was paid 1 million Rupiah per month, plus overtime money which was paid as food ingredients to a value of 25,000. This is really not sufficient if compared to the money reasonably needed to live on in the area, which in this area amounts to 100,000 Rupiah per day.
Neither the local government nor the companies have ever made the effort to conduct any training which could increase the skills and knowledge of local people of working-age, so they could be ready to work .

“What should really happen is that local government and companies train the people before they start any operations, so that local people are on an equal footing with others from outside the village, and can get a decent wage,” said Ernez Kaize.


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