The study entitled “Social Protection for Homeworkers in Indonesi: Insights and Lessons” was presented by Dr. Hesti Wijaya. The standard formal social security enjoyed by formal workers in Indonesia is practically non-existent or not extended to informal homebased workers. The unsuccessful effort to push for the social security coverage of homebased workers from state-funded social security institutions gave way to the development of indigenous social protection schemes. Apparently, it was the second best alternative to not having any means of protection at all.
The research study was conducted through participatory community based action in selected areas in Jakarta, West Java, Yogyakarta and East Java. The study showed that organized homeworkers in these areas have developed various special protection schemes, which are non-conventional but are addressing their particular needs. There are five schemes which have been covered as subject of the study: Social Welfare Scheme; Health Scheme; Saving-loan Scheme; Arisan Scheme and the HWPRI Provincial Fund for Organizing.
The Social Welfare Scheme requires members to give contributions, based on an agreement among themselves on the amount deemed affordable to those involved. Various welfare benefits are covered: health injury and accident; death; birth; wedding; circumcision; engagement; amenities for group meetings; education; purchase of consumption goods such as TV sets and electronics. Since most of them are generally poor, sustainability can become a big problem and fund depletion can happen when members try to access in succession. Experiences in the field reveal that the scheme has been relatively successful and quite effective.
For the Health Scheme, known as Dana Sehat in the Indonesian language, the target coverage is directed towards preventive and curative health care. Preventive health measures entail giving education to health workers who will subsequently be the health cadres to work for homeworkers on a voluntary basis (counseling on health matters). The curative aspect is the promotion of indigenous herbal medicines and increase in healthy food intake, provision of medicine in case of emergency, and continuing lobbying for inclusion of homeworkers in the traditional, formal health insurance scheme of the government. The fund is managed by the workers themselves and sustainability becomes a problem when contributions could not catch up with the escalating prices of medicines and medical service.
The Saving-Loan Scheme has been quite popular among the informal workers because it addresses both economic and social welfare protection. It can be a cooperative or a loan saving organization.
The “Arisan” is very popular among the Indonesian women where some 10 to 50 homeworkers organize themselves into a group. Contributions in every area vary, depending on how much the group has agreed upon. The recipient is drawn, lottery style, and there can be about 1 to 4 winners per drawing session, depending on what has been mutually agreed upon at the beginning. The meeting serves as an occasion to socialize and even an opportunity to say that one is in urgent need of cash. For the latter, group members will be flexible with rules and may forego the drawing of lottery in favor of the member who is in dire need of assistance. Arisan is a flexible saving scheme meant to address the urgent needs of members. It is also an effective means to organize and develop cohesiveness among homeworkers.
The HWPRI Provincial Fund for Organizing Scheme has been conceived to address the increasing cost of transportation to attend organizational meetings conducted in the regions of East Java. Through partial transportation subsidy, transportation costs among members are reduced. Participatory action here means that each member contributes to the HWPRI fund for organizing at the provincial level, on a monthly basis. This is one way of ensuring that organizational meetings are undertaken regularly.
Indigenous social protection is an alternative solution among homebased workers. But in the midst of chronic economic crisis, sustainability remains a big question. There must be a continuing quest for indigenous social protection schemes that are responsive to the needs of women home-based workers.