Indonesia government braces for nationwide labour protests

Indonesia government braces for nationwide labour protests

INDONESIA - At least 3 million workers to join the strike to demand a 50 per cent increase of the minimum wage.

The government has called on workers to remain peaceful during an upcoming five-day national strike, which is expected to start on Monday.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto urged workers not to vandalize public property or disturb public order.

"It is their right. However, since nationwide rallies have implications, we are taking certain steps ahead of the strike. We have prepared measures to deal with any workers who take to the streets and commit acts of violence or vandalism," Djoko said at the State Palace on Friday.

Earlier that day, Djoko had convened a meeting to prepare measures to handle the national strike.

Attending the meeting were Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar, Industry Minister MS Hidayat, the National Police's security chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti, Army chief of staff Gen. Moeldoko and National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman.

Earlier this week, thousands of workers from various unions staged a rally in front of the House of Representatives, demanding a 50 per cent increase to the Jakarta minimum wage, or 3.7 million rupiah (S$407) a month from the current 2.2 million rupiah provincial wage in Jakarta. They also demanded that the 50 per cent increase be applied in all provinces across the country.

Moreover, the protesters gave an Oct. 28 deadline to the government to ban the practice of outsourcing employees at private and state-owned companies.

The workers vowed to stage a national strike between Oct. 28 and Nov. 1 if their demands were not met.

Djoko urged union leaders to monitor their members' protests and prevent them from resorting to violence.

He also instructed the National Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) to prepare for an even larger protest than the one the unions have prepared. "I hope no one takes over public infrastructure or facilities," he said.

Labour unions say they expect at least 3 million workers to join the strike.

Said Iqbal of the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Union (KSPI) said in a statement that the 3 million workers would join a "peaceful" nationwide rally, which is expected to disrupt activities in some of the country's largest industrial parks including Pulogadung, Sunter, Tanjung Priok and Cakung in North Jakarta; Karawang, Cikarang, Purwakarta and Subang in West Java and Medan in West Java.

Nyumarno, a leader at the Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI), said the industrial action would definitely halt production at a number of metal companies.

The labour leader gave his assurances, however, that the rallies would be peaceful. "The rallies will be peaceful, without any destruction or vandalism," he said.

On Friday, a small number of workers from Jakarta had already begun their industrial action by staging a rally, marching from the Tugu Tani traffic circle in Central Jakarta to City Hall at 5:30 pm.

The workers, who are grouped under the Jakarta Labor Forum (JLF), also announced their plan to join the nationwide protest, saying they intended to camp outside City Hall.

The JLF urged Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama to increase wages to meet basic costs of living (KHL), which include residential rents and transportation costs.

They claimed their demand to raise the minimum provincial wage to 3.7 million rupiah was reasonable as the country's economy was booming.

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