4 December 2010

Workers Strike Over Wage Hike They Say Is Too Low

Jakarta. Thousands of workers in and around an industrial estate in East Jakarta went on a daylong strike on Friday over the new monthly minimum wage announced for the capital.

Striking workers brought much of the Kawasan Berikat Nusantara industrial estate to a standstill with their action.

The Jakarta administration last month announced a monthly minimum wage of Rp 1.29 million ($140) for next year, a 15.8 percent increase from the current minimum wage of Rp 1.12 million.

Labor unions criticized the increase as too low while employers complained it was too high.

During Friday’s action, the workers said the new minimum wage still fell short of the Reasonable Living Cost Index (KHL), which for Jakarta is pegged at Rp 1. 4 million a month this year.
Aan, 34, who took part in the action, said the strikers included members of the Metal, Electronics and Machinery Industries Union (SP-LEM).

After demonstrating inside the industrial estate, the protesters formed a convoy of motorcycles, minibuses and vans and traveled to City Hall in Central Jakarta, causing massive traffic jams.

Deded Sukendar, head of the Jakarta Manpower and Transmigration Agency, said last month that the new minimum wage would take effect on Jan. 1 and would apply to unmarried workers.

“That figure represents the main salary, but most employers will also provide transportation and meal allowances, so the take-home pay will likely be higher than that,” he said.

Companies that cannot afford to pay their employees based on the new figure, he said, can apply for an exemption from the administration.

“But we’d need to really examine whether such companies are really financially incapable of complying,” he said, adding that not all companies would be considered for exemptions.

“They’d have to submit their financial audits for us to study.”

He also said that with the 15.8 percent increase, the minimum wage in Jakarta would, for the first time in two years, surpass those in satellite cities Depok, Bogor and Bekasi.

Mas Muanam, from the Jakarta Workers Union (Aspek), said after the new minimum wage was announced that the workers’ demand that it be based on the KHL was outweighed by the financial considerations of employers.

“During discussions, the wage council concluded that if the minimum wage was raised to the same level as the KHL, most companies would go bankrupt,” he said.

A day before the new minimum wage was announced on Nov. 27, thousands of workers demonstrated near the Kawasan Berikat Nusantara industrial estate, causing traffic to back up for several kilometers.

They were demanding a 26 percent increase in the minimum wage.
(Jakarta Globe)


Workers in Java and Sumatra protest low wages, arbitrary dismissals

Liputan 6 SCTV - November 25, 2010

Liputan6.com, Yogyakarta – Scores of workers in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta from the Security Employees Union (SPK) and the United Indonesian Labour Movement (PPBI) demonstrated at the Yogyakarta mayor's office on Thursday afternoon, November 25. They were demanding wage improvements.

Unfurling banners the demonstrators also urged the government to abolish contract labour systems and defend the Indonesian working class. They also said that the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ignored the plight of Indonesian domestic workers. The foreign exchange heroes [as the government refers to them] are simply being sent off without guarantees or protection.

In the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya, students and workers demonstrated in front the Negara Grahadi building where they opposed the Surabaya city minimum wage for this year, which they consider unreasonable. The demonstrators also urged East Java Governor Sukarwo to immediately revise the 2011 minimum municipal wage.

In the North Sumatra city of Medan, scores of dismissed workers pelted the North Sumatra Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) office with rotten eggs. The former PT WRP Buana Multicorpora employees said that that the people's representatives (legislators) had failed them in dealing with the problem of workers who have been arbitrary dismissed.

The protest action continued for around one-and-a-half hours. Unfortunately, their demands were not realised. (WIL/SHA)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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