November 4, 2013—Indonesian workers are planning a second round of nationwide protests for better wages, likely beginning November 6, according to the Jakarta Labor Forum.
After 3 million workers last week went on a two-day strike across the country, the government raised the minimum wage by between 10 percent and 11 percent, well short of the amount workers are seeking in an economy where inflation is expected to rise by 9 percent next year. Indonesian workers are calling for higher wages to match those of other Asian countries as foreign direct investment flows into the region’s biggest economy. Workers also want an end to job outsourcing.
In an editorial supporting the workers, the Jakarta Post wrote that “workers live in virtual poverty even while the minimum wage is described as a ‘decent standard of living.’”
The editorial quoted Jumisih, a union leader from North Jakarta’s industrial area, who said: “Renting a small space … with several others, with no ventilation in a squalid area is not decent.”
At least 17 workers were attacked during last week’s rallies, according to the Confederation of Indonesian Worker’s Union (KSPI). The union said the workers were hospitalized after receiving wounds from sharp weapons and four are in critical condition. KSPI is calling for an end to such attacks.
Indrasari Tjandraningsih, a labor researcher at AKATIGA, the Center for Social Analysis, maintains that workers’ demands to ban outsourcing are also supported by data on the widespread exploitative and degrading practices.
In an opinion piece in today’s Jakarta Post, he writes: “When workers demand social security they refer to both the Constitution and the law on social security. All these show that workers’ demands are not irrational but have solid grounding. This state of affairs should be understood in a more positive context: Indonesian workers are getting more aware of their rights and also have more capability to see problems in a comprehensive and objective manner.”