Labour Dispute Resolution and the Media in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam

Dr Petra Mahy1, Dr Wayne Palmer1, Professor Carolyn Sutherland1, Ms Trang Thi Kieu Tran1

1Monash University, Australia

Labour grievances and conflicts are thought to be inevitable within employment relationships. Labour dispute resolution systems are designed to react to disputes and to minimise such conflicts and their economic and social consequences. Best practice models of labour dispute resolution systems tend to assume that formal institutional arrangements are, or should be, impervious to outside influences. However, the interactions between the media and court and other dispute resolution processes in general have long been acknowledged, as has the role of the media in reporting on and bringing labour issues to public attention. This study explores comparatively the role of the media in labour dispute resolution in three countries in Southeast Asia: Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Each of these countries has distinctive formal labour dispute resolution processes with some acknowledged problems with effectiveness. The study investigates empirically the types of worker concerns that trigger labour disputes, how the media represents labour disputes and dispute resolution processes and the extent to which it gives voice to particular actors involved in the disputes. We will also consider the implications of our findings for the overall effectiveness of the labour dispute resolution systems in the three countries.


The four presenters on this paper are all located in the Department of Business Law and Taxation, Monash University, and work on the ARC Discovery Project “Formal and Informal Regulation of Labour Disputes in Southeast Asia”. We share interests in socio-legal studies and labour regulation in Southeast Asia.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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