Bipartite dialogue is a key tool for managing conflicts and grievances at work

The ILO and its social partners continue to canvass that use of bipartite social dialogue as a strong tool to resolve industrial conflicts and grievances between workers and management.

News | Batam Island, Indonesia | 08 October 2019
Despite some good progress, a number of decent work challenges persist, including conflicts in industrial relations. Conflict is indeed inherent to and inevitable in employment relationships. Thus, establishing effective dispute prevention and resolution procedure is necessary for harmonious employment relations and productive enterprises.

Workers and the management of the shipyard company in Batam Island
Good cooperation between management and workers is effective in preventing conflict and in building workers’ trust and commitment towards the company goals that in turn benefit both parties. Although there is no ideal model, the first step taken for industrial relations dispute resolutions in many countries, including Indonesia, is through the bipartite settlement process.

Thus, Apindo always urges its members to have an attitude of mutual respect between workers and the management by understanding each other roles, rights and obligations."

Dani Handayani, Vice Chair for Employment of Apindo
Continuing the works started in 2017 in improving bipartite relations in the industrial areas, the ILO in collaboration with the Indonesian Employers’ Association (Apindo) and the local trade unions conducted a one-day workshop on bipartite dialogue for managing conflicts and grievances in Batam on 2 October. Batam is known as one of the leading industrial areas in Indonesia, consisting of various multi-national companies.

The aim of the workshop was to foster dialogue between workers and management and to promote a bipartite mechanism in handling grievances and conflict, including the adoption of the guideline at the workplace. The workshop was attended by around 60 participants representing workers and management in Batamindo industrial park.

Dani Handayani, Vice Chair for Employment of Apindo, pointed out that both workers’ and employers’ organizations in Indonesia have recognized the need to promote harmonious, dynamic and fair industrial relations at the company and industry level. “Thus, Apindo always urges its members to have an attitude of mutual respect between workers and the management by understanding each other roles, rights and obligations,” he said.

Similarly Syaiful Badri, Head of KSPSI Batam, emphasized the need for both workers and the management to have a mutual trust and respect to the principles of freedom of association. “Social dialogue does not mean that all differences can be solved. Yet, social dialogue reflects the willingness of both parties to jointly overcome differences through dialogue and compromises,” he stated.

Social dialogue does not mean that all differences can be solved. Yet, social dialogue reflects the willingness of both parties to jointly overcome differences through dialogue and compromises."

Syaiful Badri, Head of KSPSI Batam
As the facilitator, Arun Kumar, ILO’s industrial relations specialist, introduced and explained about the ILO Recommendation No. 163 on the Promotion of Collective Bargaining. The Recommendation advices to “create procedures that assist the parties themselves to find solutions to disputes relating to negotiation, interpretation and application of agreements”.

Meanwhile on the employee grievances, he quoted the ILO Recommendation No. 130, encouraging the establishment of a grievance procedure at the company level as the first step before resorting to other procedures.

The procedure should be simple with a minimum formality and ensure the right of workers to participate, to be assisted and represented. On the other hand, the management is encouraged to develop a personnel policy and seek cooperation with workers’ representatives before taking any decisions."

Arun Kumar, ILO’s industrial relations specialist
“The procedure should be simple with a minimum formality and ensure the right of workers to participate, to be assisted and represented. On the other hand, the management is encouraged to develop a personnel policy and seek cooperation with workers’ representatives before taking any decisions,” Arun explained.

At the end of the workshop, it was agreed that companies should work hand-in-hand with workers in establishing effective procedures for handling disputes. It was also agreed that the dispute resolution mechanism should be an effective in terms of time, money and energy spent in disputing, promote joint cooperation and focus on dispute prevention.

The participants also applauded the facilitation given by the ILO. “The bipartite meeting like this does often occur in Batam. We really appreciate the facilitation,” told one of the participants; while the other participant hoped that the dialogue could be maintained at the industrial and company level as part of the concrete procedure in managing grievance and conflict at the workplace. (*)