Bekasi Workers Win Minimum Wage Victory In The Streets

Last week workers in Bekasi took to the streets, blocking the Jakarta-Cikampek toll road in protest of a court decision that overturned an increase in the district’s minimum wage.  The Governor’s decree would have increased the minimum monthly wage in Bekasi district from Rp 1. 29 million to Rp 1.49 million ($144 to $167).  It appears that the protests will force the court to annul its own ruling and allow the minimum wage increase to go through.

Sulistri, a leader from the Confederation of Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union (SBSI), gave her take on the larger implications of the protests:

The rallies, staged by workers demanding increased wages, confirmed how communications were lacking between employers and workers, said Sulistri, the vice president of the Confederation of Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union (SBSI).

She also said that local administrations must be more proactive and responsive toward both parties, because in most cases they would act as mediators. “And, of course, it will inspire workers in other places to fight for their rights. Workers will see that taking their protest to street with huge numbers is an effective way to be heard,” she said.

While in another article, Timbul Siregar of the Indonesian Workers Association (OPSI) says it is part of a larger trend:

Timbul Siregar, chairman of the Indonesian Workers Association (OPSI), said on Sunday that workers were beginning to realize that radical organized protests were the key to accomplishing their objectives.

“Protesting in front of the mayor’s office or the State Palace is a thing of the past,” he said. “Workers have learned that the way to be heard is to shut down the country’s economic vein.”

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