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Millions of Indonesians to strike over 2024 minimum wage: Unions

Jakarta Post - November 16, 2023

Deni Ghifari, Jakarta – Labor unions have expressed their dissatisfaction with the 2024 minimum wage formula and announced nationwide walkouts involving millions of workers to take place by the end of this year.

The Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) and the All-Indonesia United Workers Confederation (KPBI) are among those planning large-scale industrial action. KPBI chairman Ihamsyah said the strikes were to take place between Nov. 30 and Dec. 13.

"We cannot confirm yet [how many workers will take part]; the target is 5 million," Ilhamsyah told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Said Iqbal, who chairs both the KSPI and the Labor Party, wrote in a press statement he sent to the Post on Monday that the 5 million workers were employed by more than 100,000 companies and that their action would bring operations at many firms to a standstill.

The Indonesian Workers Union Association (Aspek), meanwhile, has announced a demonstration in front of the Manpower Ministry building in South Jakarta on Wednesday, one week before the deadline for finalizing the 2024 minimum wage.

Some 10,000 workers would join the protest, Aspek president Mirah Sumirat told the Post on Monday, adding that her union would stage more industrial action following that event.

Congress Alliance of Indonesian Labor Unions (KASBI) chairwoman Nining Elitos told the Post on Monday that her union would organize protests in Bekasi and Cianjur and answered that "we are still consolidating" when asked whether walkouts were planned in Jakarta.

Confederation of Indonesian Prosperity Trade Unions (KSBSI) chairwoman Elly Rosita Silaban, meanwhile, said the KSBSI had not planned any demonstration so far.

Inked last Friday, Government Regulation (PP) No. 51/2023 on wages stipulates that the final figure for minimum wages was to be decided by the respective provincial administrations using the formula prescribed by the central government and set Nov. 21 as the deadline.

The formula uses inflation, economic growth and a third variable referred to as an "index", the value of which is to be within the range of 0.1 to 0.3. Symbolized as alpha (?) in the wage calculation formula, the index variable is to be decided by the provincial government upon review.

The 2024 minimum wage is determined by adding to the current minimum wage an adjustment amount equal to inflation plus the product of economic growth and ?.

"If you read the [PP] carefully, the statement that the minimum wage is guaranteed to rise is a kind of public lie. That is because some articles in the [PP] allow for the possibility of the minimum wage not increasing," Said stated.

Specifically, Iqbal was referring to Article 26, Paragraph 9 of the PP stating that, if the final figure of the readjustment value is equal to zero or less, the minimum wage will be set at the current figure.

Similarly, Said claimed, Paragraph 5 of Article 26A allowed for the minimum wage to remain unchanged under certain conditions.

"Therefore, it's a lie when it's stated that the minimum wage is guaranteed to rise, because there are conditions when it does not," Said explained, adding that, even if there was a rise, it would be insignificant.

He went on to say that the – range of 0.1 to 0.3 – as opposed to his organizations' recommendation of 1 to 2 – was "geared toward cheap wages".

Labor unions demanded last month that the minimum wage be raised by 15 percent next year in response to the country's improved economy.

The Indonesian Employers Association's (Apindo) labor affairs chair, Bob Azam, told the Post on Tuesday that employers rejected that request.

"Out of nowhere [the unions] asked for 15 percent. We object, of course. Come on, just follow the laws in place," Bob said, accusing the unions of lacking any lawful basis for their demands.

He went on to say that "the politicization" of minimum wages needed to stop, accusing regional governments of frequently veering off the path set out by the law for political gain.

"We also have to end this rowdiness, because it only happens in our country," Bob said, before continuing on to explain that the minimum wage served only as a safety net, while the wage should generally be resolved between the worker and employer.

Neither Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah nor the Ministry's Secretary General, Anwar Sanusi, responded to the Post's request for comment.

Source: https://asianews.network/millions-of-indonesians-to-strike-over-2024-minimum-wage-unions