Workers stay off work to prepare for nationwide strike
Rangga D. Fadillah and Fadli
The Jakarta Post
Tens of thousands of workers stayed away from their workplaces in a number of cities in a warm-up for a nationwide strike scheduled for Thursday.
In Jakarta and surrounding areas, thousands of workers staged peaceful strikes.
Workers rallied in industrial estates in Pulogadung, Cilincing, Bekasi, Cikarang, Tangerang and Bogor to announce the nationwide strike. Most employers had no objection to the action as only some of their workers participated.
Tatang, a worker at PT Exel Metal Industry in Cibitung, Bekasi, told The Jakarta Post that the labor union at his company had sent only 10 to 15 representatives to participate in a rally at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta.
'There has been no disruption in production activities. Employees are working as usual. Those rallying aren't from the morning shift; they'll go to work after the demonstration,' he revealed.
Not all factories in that area were that fortunate. There were no apparent activities at publicly listed packaging company PT Dynaplast, for example. The gate was shut and the production plant remained silent.
A security guard at the factory, who refused to be named, revealed that there was no production activities in the morning.
'If the condition is safe, the factory may resume operations in the evening. But I don't know for sure,' he said.
Meanwhile, thousands of workers had rallied at the Jakarta Industrial Estate Pulogadung (JIEP) in Pulogadung, East Jakarta, since morning.
The industrial estate's roads were filled with workers, while the factories along the main street looked empty with their gates closed. A number of security guards stood behind the fences and watched the workers pass by.
Asep, like other workers, demanded Rp 3.7 million (US$334.54) as a minimum wage.
'Our current wage [Rp 2.2 million] is not enough to buy makeup for our wives,' he said.
Responding to the demand, Deputy Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama said the city administration could not meet the workers' demand for Rp 3.7 million in minimum wage.
According to Ahok, the city administration would focus on determining the basic cost of living (KHL), whereas the provincial minimum wage would be adjusted according to inflation and economic growth.
'The result of the basic cost loving in 2014 will increase slightly to Rp 2.3 million from the previous KHL of Rp 2.2 million,' he said.
In Batam, Riau Islands, dozens of companies temporarily stopped production activities to allow workers to demonstrate.
'We are off on Monday, but we don't know about tomorrow. The thing is today we're all off, both management and employees,' said Nurani, an operational staffer at cigarette maker PT Rock Indonesia, which is located in the Citra Buana III industrial zone.
The head of the Indonesian Metal Workers Union (SPMI) Batam, Suprapto, said that today's demonstration was just a warm-up and on Wednesday, all workers in Batam would strike to attract the government's attention.
'We demand a 50 percent pay rise, the eradication of outsourcing and provision of health insurance by Jan. 1,' he revealed.
A member of the Jakarta Minimum Wage Council representing businesspeople, Sarman Simanjorang, said the planned strike would cause financial losses for manufacturers and may lead to worse.
'The strike and demonstrations will hamper Indonesia's investment climate. Potential investors may rethink their decisions to do businesses here due to the unconducive labor situation,' he told the Post. (nai)
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