Thousands of workers protest on streets over minimum wage
Fedina Sundaryani and Apriadi Gunawan
The Jakarta Post
Hundreds of thousands of laborers across the country joined street rallies on Wednesday, demanding reviews of minimum wages.
Workers from factories in Greater Jakarta demonstrated in several areas in the city, including gathering at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle. The members of various labor organizations then continued to convoy to the State Palace and City Hall.
The Jakarta administration recently increased the monthly city minimum wage (UMK) by 12.5 percent from Rp 2.4 million (US$192) to Rp 2.7 million. However, workers demanded a greater increase, saying the minimum wage was too low and had been established before the fuel-price hike.
The Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said that the rally was peaceful without any riots.
'The situation has been peaceful throughout the protest. There is no news of violent outbursts,' Rikwanto told The Jakarta Post.
Jakarta police deployed 16,670 officers, 2,000 of which were backup officers from the National Police, in order to secure the labor rally.
The police officers were stationed at several areas around Central Jakarta, focusing mainly on the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, State Palace and City Hall compound.
Meanwhile, thousands of workers from various regions occupied the North Sumatra gubernatorial office in Medan and demanded the provincial administration revise the 2015 monthly provincial minimum wage (UMP).
Workers grouped in the North Sumatra Workers Coalition regarded the monthly UMP of Rp 1,625,000, set by Governor Gatot Pujo Nugroho, as inappropriate.
According to them, the UMP was too low compared to the cost of living, which has further risen along with the increase in fuel prices.
Rally coordinator Eben Ezer said the governor should immediately revise the UMP because it was unsuitable for decent living needs. According to Eben, the 2015 UMO should be ideally set at Rp 2 million monthly.
'The governor must immediately revise the 2015 UMP. We will remain in the office until our demands are met,' said Eben in front of the gubernatorial office.
In response to the workers' demand, North Sumatra Remuneration Council head Mukmin said if the workers did not agree with the 2015 UMP, they could file a lawsuit at the State Administrative Court. According to him, the UMP has referred to existing regulations and adapted to meet decent living needs.
'If they don't agree with the UMP, just file a lawsuit at the State Administrative Court. We're tired of the annual labor rallies demanding decent wages,' Mukmin said at the gubernatorial office.
Separately, several labor organizations in West Java staged a rally in front of the Gedung Sate gubernatorial office in Bandung on Wednesday demanding Governor Ahmad Heryawan adjust the 2015 UMP as it had not included impacts from the fuel-price increase.
'We are here to demand a revision of the 2015 UMP because it had not considered the fuel-price increase,' said rally coordinator Roy Jito.
He said the 2015 UMP in West Java had not offered the best to workers as it had not considered components of workers' decent living needs.
He added that a survey to determine decent living needs had only included 66 of 84 necessary items.
He said workers in West Java had also demanded the promise made by Heryawan to revise the city minimum wage after setting the 2015 UMK on Nov. 21, 2014.
Dewanti A. Wardhani contributed to this article.
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