Back in October I posted about three labor activists in Vietnam facing prison. RadioLabour has posted a five-minute interview in English with Trung Doan of the Committee to Protect Vietnamese Workers who gives an update on the campaign to free these activists.
The online campaign organized by Labourstart is still active, click here to send a message in support of these workers.
The chairman of the Indonesian Businessmen Association (Apindo), Sofjan Wanandi, blamed labor disputes for turning away foreign investment, a standard talking point from the business community. Here are his quotes from an article in The Jakarta Post:
“Given this problem, it would be good if we could maintain this year’s growth next year,” he told the The Jakarta Post…The first factor impeding the country’s economic growth and now a major constraint for investments to enter the country, Sofjan said, was legal uncertainty, particularly concerning labor regulations. “Laborer demonstrations in the country have been getting more extreme recently. The problems appear to be due to uncertainties in regulations on labor such as outsourcing and minimum wages,” he said. Actually both businessmen and laborers dislike outsourcing, but there is no regulation that ensures the productivity of laborers if they are made permanent employees of companies, he added. “Once laborers get permanent employment, their productivity sharply declines and we [businessmen] can do nothing about that,” he said.
From a recent article in The Straits Times on the announced 15% increase of Jakarta’s municipal minimum wage:
The Jakarta municipal government announced that the required minimum wage would be increased by 15 per cent to 1.29 million rupiah. The hike will take effect on Jan 1 and apply to workers in sectors such as textiles, food and beverage, and retail. Thus, Jakarta’s minimum wage would surpass those in the capital’s satellite cities, such as Depok (1.25 million rupiah) and Bekasi (1.28 million rupiah).
But not all workers and labour unionists are happy. They note that the new minimum wage is still below the estimated cost-of-living standard, known by its Indonesian acronym KHL, set by the municipal government. That figure is pegged at around 1.4 million rupiah.
A look at the monthly expenses of Mr Sugiharto, 35, a photographer, shows why. The father of two said he and his teacher wife have a combined income of nearly 1.4 million rupiah. His older child’s monthly school fees are 160,000 rupiah, the family’s electricity bill runs up to 250,000 rupiah, and around 600,000 rupiah goes to transportation. The rest of it — only 390,000 rupiah — is left for food and savings, if any, for the family. “It’s never enough if you live in Jakarta,” he told the Jakarta Globe. “We have a list of bills which we struggle to meet.”
As the organizing campaign at the Hotel Grand Aquila in Bandung continues, the IUF has a new online campaign in which you can support the FSPM workers by sending a message to the mayor of Bandung, urging the government to act upon the recommendations of the ILO to reinstate dismissed workers and protect their freedom of association.
For background on the campaign, see past posts here.
12 national Islamic organizations, including Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, called on the government to stop sending workers to Saudi Arabia and to better protect migrant workers in general. This comes on the same day that Labor Minister Muhaimin Iskandar is meeting with his counterpart in Riyadh to discuss the issue of migrant workers.
It is interesting to see the effect of religious organizations adding their voice to the debate over migrant workers. One the one hand, the fact that citizens of majority Muslim Saudi Arabia are exploiting citizens from majority Muslim Indonesia adds to the moral outrage in Indonesia and is potentially more shaming for Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, what happens when these same organizations make statements that most labor NGOs would find less then empowering? For example, how many labor activists would want to be associated with positions like the one below:
Muhammadiyah, the country’s second-largest Islamic organization, was also among the 12. It said that, under Islam, Muslim women were not allowed to travel far from home without being accompanied by male kin. (Jakarta Globe)