While APINDO has dropped its lawsuit attempting to overturn the provincial minimum wage increase in East Java, the minimum wage still remains an issue, as employers are able to disregard the increase due to less than vigorous enforcement or apply for exemptions based on the financial needs of the company (see previous posts on minimum wage in East Jave here & here). Yet, with the end of June already upon us, the fight over next year’s minimum wage has already begun, with a report in The Jakarta Post on the Alliance for the Defense of Laborers (ABM) lobbying the governor of East Java, with most of ABM’s concerns regarding allowing workers a voice in the processes of data collection and other considerations in setting the minimum wage.
From Jamaludin, East Java Coordinator of the ABM:
We ask the local administration to invite us to help conduct the survey for the database, before deciding on the minimum wage, because past surveys have never been pro-worker
The head of the Tangerang branch of Federasi Serikat Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia (FSPSI) claims over 50% of firms in Tangerang are violating the minimum wage, echoing previous reports out of Malang that the minimum wage is violated there by as many as 60% of all firms.
From this same report we learned that, as of the middle of this weeks, talks continued between shoe manufacturer PT Prima Inreksa & workers who are demanding severence pay for 1,000 workers laid off in 2007 after the termination of a contract with Adidas.
Wives of Nestle Workers Hold May Day Demonstration (asianfoodworker.net)
The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) has posted this e-action in support of Nescafe factory workers in Indonesia, with the following summary:
Since 2007, the union at Nestlé’s Nescafé factory in Panjang, Indonesia has been struggling to negotiate two basic improvements to their contract. The union wants: wages to be negotiated through collective bargaining, and is asking for the wage scale to be included in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. These are basic elements of any negotiation, but Nestlé management refuses, saying it is not company policy to negotiate wages and that wage scales are “confidential”! Rather than negotiate, Nestlé has attempted to undermine the union’s legitimacy by intimidating members and leaders, attempting to establish a rival organization and pressuring workers to join it. Nestlé has tried to keep wages out of collective bargaining by forcing a solution through the industrial court rather than at the bargaining table. For nearly two years workers have resisted – you can support their resistance by sending a message to Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, using the form below.
Blue Bird Drivers Demonstrate In Hotel Indonesia Traffic Circle (JP)
Thursday saw a small group of Blue Bird taxi drivers demonstrate in the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, a follow-up to a previous demonstration held in May. The fundamental issue is one hanging over the heads of so many Indonesian workers, the lack of full-time employment status. As the article describes, drivers are considered “business partners” by the company, which allows them to eschew many of the responsibilities of full-time employers and impose a more flexible labor regime based on commissions. It also raises a prominent difficulty for many Indonesian labor organizations, the difficulty of organizing to change the status of workers when it is their status as contract employees or “business partners” that makes them vulnerable and difficult to organize in the first place.
Wednesday saw two Tangerang garment manufacturing companies in the news regarding worker unrest. In The Jakarta Globe, there was a report that polyester producer PT Susila Indah Fiber Industries is facing its second day of a strike by 1,700 of its workers. The strike is the result of a number of company actions, including dismissing three workers for participating in May Day demonstrations, paying workers only 80% of the minimun wage, and blocking attempts by workers to organize a union. The Jakarta Post also had a report from Tangerang, this regarding shoe manufacturer PT Prima Inreksa, whose 2,000 workers are in the third day of their strike in solidarity with 1,000 laid off workers who have not received pay promised to them when they were laid off in May 2007.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has released its global & country-by-country survey of trade union rights violations, and you can read its report on Indonesia here. The report is a useful round-up of the various issues facing unions and includes particular cases illustrating each of these systemic problems.
Included in the report is an interview with Rekson Silaban, President of Konfederasi Serikat Buruh Sejahtera Indonesia (KSBSI), from early 2008. In the interview, he discusses the future of trade union strategy in Indonesia, including KSBSI’s attempts to facilitate and incentivize organizing campaigns by local affiliates. He also describes some KSBSI initiated projects to address the informal sector and makes clear that the union movement will have to develop new strategies to address the informal sector:
In Indonesia these workers are “moving targets”, so it’s difficult and costly to recruit them. A new strategy has to be developed so that we can adapt to this growing flexibility, which manifests itself in the form of relocations, outsourcing, recourse to subcontracting firms, etc. But the trade union approach is still the same as it was when workers were employed on a permanent basis. Flexibility is a reality. We cannot keep on simply pinpointing it as the enemy, and leave it at that. We have to reflect on what we can do for these workers…