Monthly Archives: October 2009

West Java Minimum Wage Goes Local

Following policies found in East and Central Java, the West Java provincial government announced that it would decentralize minimum wage policy even further, so that they will be set at the regency and municipality level, rather than province wide.  In Indonesia, the minimum wage serves less as a floor for wages and more as a benchmark.  This, along with less widespread collective bargaining, makes minimum wage policy far more important to the Indonesian labor movement than, for example, the American labor movement.

As Patrick Quinn notes in his ILO report on labor representation in Indonesia from 1998-2003, the localization of minimum wage policy “has undoubtedly opened up the possibility for workers to launch local campaigns aimed at encouraging politicians to increase wage levels.”  I think an interesting comparative study is in there somewhere, to determine in what ways labor unions have gained leverage by the decentralization of the minimum wage, as well as it yearly determination.  And are there provinces where this process has hurt labor unions?  If anyone knows of any info or commentaries on the matter, feel free to post them or pass them along.

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SBK-KASBI Protests Mayor’s Decision In Surabaya

Hundreds of workers protested outside the mayor’s office in Surabaya last week after the mayor endorsed the 2010 minimum wage figure suggested by the local payment body made up of “17 municipal administration officials, two academics, 12 labor representatives and 12 businessmen.”  The figure recommended by the body was Rp 1.031.500, which appears to be a comprise from Indonesian Employers Association’s recommendation of Rp 1.002.000 and the labor section of the body’s recommendation of Rp 1.067.530.  The labor representatives of the body are from Serikat Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia (SPSI), Serikat Buruh Sejahtera Indonesia (SBSI), and Sarikat Buruh Muslimin Indonesia (Sarbumusi).  The workers protesting outside the mayors office were from Serikat Buruh Kerakyatan Kongres Aliansi Serikat Buruh Indonesia (SBK-KASBI), whose own survey suggested Rp 1.131.804 would be necessary to cover a worker’s basic needs in Suryabaya.

Now On UnionBook

For those of you with UnionBook accounts, Working Indonesia now has a profile and you can friend us here.

Workers Protest SBY-Boediono Administration

Metro TV has this report yesterday on hundreds of workers protesting outside the capital, demonstrating in opposition to the SBY-Boediono administration.  The issues the workers raised included wages, outsourcing, and contract labor, as well as calling for a general opposition to neo-liberal policies.  Metro TV said the workers were from “Kongres Serikat Buruh,” which I take to mean Kongres Aliansi Serikat Buruh Indonesia (KASBI), but if anyone can confirm this, I would appreciate it.

Struggle At Nescafe Continues

The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) has posted this update on the campaign at Nescafe in Panjang, Indonesia.  The company continues to refuse to negotiate wages with Serikat Buruh Nestle Indonesia Panjang (SBNIP), claiming that wages are an industry secret.  The company is pushing a company-backed union to undermine SBNIP’s bargaining efforts, described below by the IUF:

So in December 2007 Nestle brought 12 Panjang workers hundreds of kilometers from their home town to a luxury hotel in Jakarta to help found the FKBNI….SBNIP members were pressured into joining the FKBNI. Signatures were forged on membership documents. SBNIP members were visited in their homes, where the Corporate Business Principles and Nestlé’s adherence to the UN Global Compact were explained. Others were transferred, and placed under video surveillance. FKBNI members’ applications for education allowance for their children are approved; SBNIP members’ applications are rejected “for administrative reasons”

You can send a message to Nestle, demanding the company negotiate wages with the SBNIP and stop promoting a company union by clicking here.

Demo Wrap-Up

Here’s a wrap-up of some of the worker demonstrations that made it onto Metro TV News the past few days:

  • Facing forced resignation, hundreds of workers at RS Bunda Medical Centre in Padang demonstrated peacefully, demanding that the hospital either allow them to continue working or fire them so that they can at least receive separation pay.  The workers have already gone one month without pay.
  • Nearly 500 dock workers in Surabaya went on strike, holding a demonstration outside the offices of PT Dok dan Perkapalan Surabaya (Pesero).  Some of their demands include an end to the outsourcing of work and refusing the unilateral replacement of union leadership.
  • Hundreds of civil servants demonstrated outside of the Governor’s office in Papua regarding the payment of regional subsidies, which workers have been waiting ten months to receive.  Unsatisfied with the answer they received at the Governor’s office, they continued to his official residence two kilometers away, where a few leaders of the demonstration were received.

Padang Earthquake: How To Help?

While I try to keep the focus of this blog fairly narrow, the recent earthquake in Padang, West Sumatra has left anyone with any ties to Indonesia deeply saddened and gravely concerned.  The New York Times currently reports 529 dead, but the figure is expected to continue to rise.

For those of you who are looking for ways to help, one way is to make a donation to Mercy Corp’s Asia Pacific Disaster Fund.  It has been recommended to me by a source who both works on exactly these kinds of issues and has spent time working on them in Padang.  As they describe below, their organization has been on the ground in Padang working on just this issue.

Mercy Corps’ response will include distribution of shelter items, other relief supplies and provision of clean water. Our team will also continue to assess the situation, alongside other responders and local authorities, to determine how we can help in other ways.  We’ve operated programs in Padang for the last several years, including disaster preparedness, infrastructure rebuilding and nutrition for mothers and children. This ongoing work places us in a unique position to mount an effective, widespread response to a variety of critical needs.