Ghina Ghaliya, Jakarta – Labor unions have lambasted Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah for leaving the minimum wage unchanged for 2021, accusing her of siding with businesses over workers.
The workers called on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Friday to instruct Ida to revoke a newly issued circular letter that announced there would be no increase to the minimum wage. They called the policy unfair, given that at least 11 business sectors were not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as energy, electronics and pharmaceuticals.
"Ida Fauziyah is not the manpower minister but the minister of Apindo [the Indonesian Employers Association] or the businessmen's minister," Riden Hatam Aziz, secretary-general of the Indonesian Metal Workers Union (FSPMI), said in a virtual presser on Friday.
Indonesian Workers Union Association (ASPEK) president Mirah Sumirat voiced similar concerns. "We are very angry; the government really doesn't care about us," she said.
Confederation of Indonesian Workers Union (KSPI) chairman Said Iqbal said the policy could not be applied equally to all business sectors, even though there were sectors severely impacted by the pandemic such as tourism, hotels and airlines.
"Even in 1998 [Asian financial crisis] there was an increase in the minimum wage to maintain people's purchasing power," he said.
Ida issued a circular on Monday, telling local administrations to maintain the 2020 provincial minimum wage (UMP) or the district or city minimum wage (UMK) for 2021.
The National Awakening Party politician argued that the decision had been made after consulting the National Wage Council (Depenas). She claimed that the council had agreed on the unchanged minimum wage to protect both employers and workers amid the economic recovery from COVID-19.
"We asked for the 2020 minimum wage to be maintained for 2021. This is a middle ground that must be decided by the government under a difficult situation," said Ida as quoted by kompas.com, adding that the final decision would lie in the hands of regional leaders.
However, Depenas deputy chairman for labor, Sunardi, said that even though he had been invited to the meeting, the government's decision followed the suggestion proposed by business representatives.
"The employers suggested that the 2012 minimum wage stay the same as 2020; that's their suggestion, [...] but the workers gave their suggestions as well. Why does the government only accommodate businesses?" Sunardi said.