Pig farm workers to get $25 pay rise

A deal has been reached to end a pay dispute at a pig farm near Batam which is the sole supplier of live pigs to Singapore.

Its 300 workers will be given a 225,000 rupiah (S$25) a month wage increase on top of their minimum pay. Suppliers said this is unlikely to affect prices here.

Ms Duma Sitanggang, who represents the 300 workers at the 1,500ha farm in Pulau Bulan, said: "We don't consider this a win or loss but think it is enough to send a message to employers to remember to consider the welfare of those workers who have served for over a decade and yet are paid pitifully small salary increases."

She claims that over the last five years, pay rises have been between just 5,000 and 20,000 rupiah a month. The deal was reached on Friday and led to Monday's wage talks being called off.

Some 175 workers went on a week-long strike on Sept 10. They returned to work last Tuesday after farm operator Indo Tirta Suaka agreed to reopen talks.

Mr Andy Tang, Tiong Lian Food's general manager, said suppliers at the farm have promised prices will not go up. "They said don't worry, everything will stay put, so to me, there is no issue," said Mr Tang, who buys 100 live pigs a day from the farm. "The pay increase is minimal too."

He pointed out that most live pigs are auctioned before they are slaughtered at a Jurong abbatoir. Prices are thus set by supply and demand. "Supply is not affected for now, so prices will also not be affected," he added.

Mr Lim Choon Hee, 54, who buys three live pigs a day, said: "The pigs are sold by auction, so they (the farms) cannot control prices anyway. If the cost to rear a pig goes up, fewer pigs may be supplied and this may push up prices in the long run."

Indo Tirta Suaka management could not be contacted.