Thousands of workers rallied outside City Hall on Thursday as they once again protested against the Jakarta administration’s decision to ignore their demands for a higher minimum wage.
The protest, joined by some 13,000 workers across the Greater Jakarta area, followed a series of demonstrations in recent months by workers who demanded that Governor Joko Widodo and Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama raise the 2014 provincial monthly minimum wage to Rp 3.7 million ($325).
In Thursday’s protests, workers raised up to seven demands to the Jakarta administration, including revisions to the 2014 minimum wage for the Greater Jakarta Area, Karawang, Serang, Cilegon, Bandung, East Java, Batam and other industrial areas to between Rp 2.6 million and Rp 3 million, from the current figures of Rp 2.4 million in Jakarta and less elsewhere.
“The second one is to implement a minimum wage by sector in every region, with an increase of up to 15 to 30 percent from the revised minimum wage,” said Confederation of Indonesian Workers Unions (KSPI) chairman Said Iqbal.
“The third, reject any delays [by companies] on the implementation of the minimum wage, and imprison business owners who are not paying workers according to the minimum wage.”
Workers also demanded that law enforcement officials take strict action in recent cases of violence against several workers in Bekasi.
KSPI secretary general Muhammad Rusdi emphasized that workers would again return to the streets today to protest the government’s minimum wage policy and to demand that the National Police investigate an attack by a mob on 28 workers during a nationwide strike last month.
Rusdi said that thousands of workers from across Indonesia would again be joining in another nationwide strike today.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said nearly 9,000 police officers were deployed to secure the protest on Thursday, which saw workers knock down the gates at City Hall.
According to Said, the union will give the National Police up to 10 days to conclude their investigation of the attack.
“If there is no response from the National Police, we will go on a much bigger demonstration,” he said.
In East Java, hundreds of workers marched on Surabaya’s Grahadi Building, the office of the governor, to voice their dissatisfaction at East Java Governor Soekarwo’s decision on the minimum wage.
The East Java government this month agreed on a Rp 2.2 million minimum wage for workers in Surabaya in 2014, the highest among other all 38 cities and districts across the province.
“Soekarwo, who is supposedly the East Java governor, who claims to be an East Javan, is apparently inconsistent,” said Andy Peci, a protest coordinator, as quoted by Merdeka.com.
“Apparently he has never sided with the workers,” he said.
Andy said the governor had previously agreed to raise Surabaya’s minimum wage to Rp 2.8 million, but reneged.
Earlier last week, private businesses in East Java’s Ring I area, which covers Surabaya, Sidoarjo, Gresik, Mojokerto and Pasuruan, had threatened to move their factories to other regions with a lower minimum wage.
“Businesses can’t survive with the regional minimum wage being above Rp 2 million. It is not impossible for us to move to other regions,” Ridwan Sugianto, chairman of the East Java chapter of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo), said in Surabaya on Nov. 21.
Among the regions being considered by businesses is Lamongan, a district 60 kilometers from Surabaya, where the 2014 minimum wage is Rp 1.2 million, he said.
According to Ridwan, businesses may have to consider a major layoff should they insist on remaining in Surabaya.
“Business owners created their businesses to seek profit, not to continuously experience losses,” he said.
“I am calling for the governor to revise the 2014 minimum wage.”
Johnson M. Simanjuntak, an Apindo official, said the employers’ association had only expected an increase in the minimum wage of 9 to 10 percent at most, for a monthly total of Rp 1.9 million.