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Jakarta Post

Workers skip wage talk for street rally

  • Sita W. Dewi

    The Jakarta Post

  /   Thu, October 31, 2013   /  08:02 am

A meeting of the Jakarta Wage Council scheduled for Wednesday to negotiate a minimum wage increase for 2014 was canceled because workers'€™ representatives refused to participate, opting instead to lead a demonstration in front of City Hall.

In the latest fight over the minimum wage, council workers'€™ representative Akhmad Jazuli said that workers were demanding that the official basic cost of living be set at Rp 2.7 million (US$243).

Meanwhile, the council had proposed the benchmark be set at Rp 2.29 million, based on 60 standard of living components (KHL) stipulated in Presidential Instruction No.9/2013 on the provincial minimum wage.

The council'€™s proposal was supposed to be discussed further by workers associations and business players at the canceled meeting.

'€œWe refuse to attend the meeting today,'€ Jazuli said on Wednesday at City Hall.

He said that their boycott of the meeting was aimed at preventing the city administration from determining the minimum wage.

'€œIf they make a decision, it will be unlawful,'€ he added.

The wage council member representing businesses, Asril Chaniago, said that they had to decide on the minimum wage by Nov. 1.

'€œOn that date the governor will have the final say. Last year, it was the representatives from businesses who skipped the meetings and the governor set the minimum wage at Rp 2.2 million despite objections from the businesses,'€ he added.

Jakarta Manpower and Transmigration Agency head Priyono said the workers'€™ demands were irrational.

'€œWe can'€™t grant their demand to add the number of items in the KHL to 84 from 60. It has been regulated in Manpower and Transportation Ministerial Regulation No.13/2013,'€ he said.

Priyono added the workers should address their demands to the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry instead of to the city administration.

Previously, the workers said that if the government would set the basic cost of living at Rp 2.7 million as they had proposed, then a nationwide strike set to take place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 1 could be avoided.

On Tuesday, the protesters asked Governor Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo to meet and discuss the workers'€™ demand for a minimum wage increase or else, Jazuli said, they would stay at City Hall until the governor granted them a meeting.

The protesters, however, left City Hall in the afternoon.

The governor has signaled he will not meet the workers as demanded.

'€œI'€™m not going to have a pointless discussion with the workers. I will only consider once the remuneration council proposes the figures. If the figures are rational then I will make my decision,'€ he told reporters.

He added that the workers should also consider the current economic condition before putting forward their demands. If the workers and employers had a good relationship, they could settle this issue internally, he said.

Jokowi pointed out that the central government should take action to prevent such events from recurring every year.

'€œThere should be a law on remuneration so this kind of thing doesn'€™t happen every year. The law may regulate a minimum wage based on the business sector or region,'€ Jokowi said.

Earlier, Winarso of the Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI) said his federation would join the nationwide strike unless the Jakarta administration increased the provincial minimum wage by 50 percent.

Hundreds of workers joined the rally in front of City Hall, occupying a lane on Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan and stopping up traffic around the area and forcing the Transjakarta bus corridor 2 route serving Harmoni-Pulogadung to be shortened.

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