The Jakarta Post
Despite the recent increase of fuel prices and inflation on the horizon, the Employers Association (Apindo) indicated there will be no wage increase this year.
Labor associations vowed to push for a wage increase in July to counteract the fuel price changes that became effective last Saturday.
Apindo chairman Sofjan Wanandi said companies are welcome to 'adjust' transportation allowance for their employees.
According to Sofjan, any policies regarding wage rises need a joint assessment through talks between workers, businesses and the government.
'The National Wage Council [DPN] will first do a survey through the tripartite arrangement, which will then be negotiated upon, and a decision made next year,' Sofjan said on Monday, acknowledging that the association has neither a plan nor any specific policy to increase wages.
'If increasing travel allowances is necessary so workers can live at the same standard they are used to, then please do so,' he said, adding that any policies to increase allowances for are a matter for the companies concerned.
Apindo has no plan to increase wages partly because of the increase in the minimum wage this year.
Based on his personal observations, Sofjan has not seen any evidence that the increase in minimum wage to boosted the productivity of workers.
'How can this be so? If this is the way things are, maybe we better use more machines and fewer workers?' Sofjan said.
'They make all sorts of demands, but do nothing to improve themselves,' he added.
Muhamad Rusdi, secretary-general of the Confederation of Labor Unions (KSPI), said this organizations members would push for wage increases of at least 30 percent this July.
'First of all, we are still opposed to the new fuel prices. We insist on increased wages because fuel prices have been increased,' he said in a telephone interview.
Aside from the fuel-price rise, Rusdi said manual and unskilled workers everywhere would also feel the pinch with the early increase in prices of food stuffs.
Prices normally rises at the beginning of Ramadhan; this year in the first week of July.
Fasting month always has the highest monthly inflation rates as many people decide to significantly up their household spending.
'Fuel prices increased by around 40 percent and of course this will be followed by the increases in transportation tariffs and rent,' Rusdi said, referring to workers who mostly live in rented houses near their place of work.
The labor activist also said the unions would demand wage increases of 50 percent next year in relation to the introduction of ASEAN Economic Community or 'single market', which is scheduled for 2015.
Jaya Sentosa, chairman of the Labor Unions Association (ASPEK), said the association would keep their attention on the 30 percent increase of minimum wages this July instead.
'As for the wage increases next year, it can wait until October when laborers begin their campaign to demand it. But for now, let us focus on increasing the minimum wage before the Idul Fitri celebrations,' he said. (asw)
Amahl S. Azwar also contributed to the story
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