Friday, December 15, 2006

East Java workers protest new minimum wage for 2007

National News - December 14, 2006
ID Nugroho, The Jakarta Post, Surabaya

Hundreds of workers in East Java held street protests Wednesday to show their opposition to the new minimum wage level set to be implemented across the province next month.

The protesters from the Alliance of Workers Struggle group called for East Java Governor Imam Utomo to lift the new minimum wage from the planned Rp 746,000 to the alliance's demand of Rp 975,000.

Arriving in trucks and on motorcycles, the protest was made up of workers from Surabaya's factories, with others from Malang, Pasuruan and Sidoarjo later joining the demonstration.

For Malang, the governor set the wage at Rp 743,000, lower than the revised proposal from the regent at Rp 745,109 and the survey of basic needs made by the city's remuneration council at Rp 770,109.

The alliance's spokesman, Jamaludin, said the governor's local Dec. 8 ordinance on the minimum wage was based on an erroneous survey of workers' basic needs.

Meanwhile, the local regency and municipal administrations in the province had failed to pass on workers' demands to the governor, he said.

"It makes no sense that the amount proposed by the regents, mayor and a remuneration council in Surabaya is only Rp 748,000, much less than in other cities in East Java. It's not valid," Jamaludin said.

The alliance came to its wage demand after holding an independent survey on basic needs, he said.

Jamaludin accused regional leaders of taking part in backroom deals before making a decision on the wage, with proposals from several cities, including Gresik, Pasuruan and Malang, handed back by the governor to be revised downward.

"That's why the alliance demands the East Java governor revoke the ordinance and revise the minimum wage. There should be transparency and accountability when determining the wage and workers' basic needs," Jamaludin said.

The alliance has also requested the governor take into account an 8 percent inflation rate when setting the wage.

Meanwhile, the head of East Java's manpower office, Bahruddin, questioned the motive for the protest.

"How can (workers) know that the (provincial government's) survey of basic needs is invalid?" Bahruddin told The Jakarta Post.

He said his office would discuss the matter with the administration.


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