National strike to demand abolition of outsourcing, contract labour

Source – September 24, 2012
Workers rally at Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Jakarta (NRM News)
Workers rally at Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Jakarta (NRM News)

Jakarta – Workers from the Joint Labour Secretariat (Sekber Buruh) have agreed to hold a national strike on October 3. They are demanding the abolition of outsourcing and contract labour systems, which they insist harms the working class.

“It’s definite, we will hold a national strike on October 3. It won’t just be a strike, we will also hold street actions”, said Sekber Buruh Presidium Secretary Edi Santoso during a break in a mass meeting attended by hundreds of workers from various labour organisations at the divisional office of the Labour and Transmigration Department in North Jakarta on Sunday September 23.

Prior to the mass meeting, hundreds of workers held a peaceful action in front of the Tanjung Priok port area in North Jakarta. They then held a parade riding motorcycles and city busses that set off for the Sudin Labour and Transmigration office in North Jakarta. The rally was watched over by police.

Santoso called on workers and other participants at the mass meeting not to just remain silent during the strike, but join them in taking to the streets in actions that are planned to take palace at a number of points in the industrial zones of Jakarta and nearby Bekasi.

The call was welcomed by the workers at the mass meeting, who came from a number of labour organisations that are part of the Jakarta Workers in Motion (BJB), an alliance of 18 labour organisations throughout Jakarta.

Santoso said the national strike will be conducted peacefully. “Our demands are the abolition of outsourcing systems and the politics of low wages that do great harm to workers”, said Santoso.

The national strike will not just be restricted to the Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi, but simultaneous strikes are planed in other cities including Cirebon, Bandung, Batam, Semarang and Surabaya.

“The problem of contract labour systems is a problem for workers nationally and because of this workers must fight it collectively, on a national scale”, said Santoso.

Sekber Buruh coordinator Michael said that the group will be consolidating with all trade unions to collectively hold a national strike on October 3. The main demand that will be taken up is the abolition of outsourcing by revoking the articles that justify the system, namely Law Number 13/2002 on Labour.

In addition to this, Sekber Buruh will also be demanding improvements to the reasonable living cost index (KHL) in determining minimum wages as regulated by Ministry of Labour and Transmigration Decree 13/2012, by calling for an increase in the components of the KHL from 60 to between 86 and 122.

“This should [happen] without [us] asking, without [us] demanding it, without the need for a national strike, the government is obliged to undertake the mandate of bringing prosperity to workers”, he explained.

BJB coordinator Abdul Rosyid said that they would continue to garner support and coordinate with other organisation and labour organisation alliances.

The BJB is not yet able to estimate how many workers will take part in the national strike, but according to Rosyid, a national strike represents a last resort on the part of workers.

Workers have repeatedly called for the abolition of outsourcing systems but this has gone unheeded. “Efforts at bi-partite negotiations with companies and the government have been undertaken many times”, he said.

Rosyid said that Law Number 13/2003 is unable to protect workers. Under contract labour systems, workers’ futures are uncertain because they are never promoted to the status of permanent employees. Contract workers also do not obtain other basic rights. “There are many who have worked for years and years, but have still not been promoted to permanent employees”, he said.

This situation is aggravated by low provincial minimum wages (UMP). Rosyid gave the example of the 2012 Jakarta provincial minimum wage of 1,529,150 million rupiah per month. This wage is no longer adequate because of the high cost of living in Jakarta. “This amount is barely sufficient to stay alive”, said Rosyid. (RWN)

[3 Oktober, Buruh Akan Mogok Kerja – Senin, 24 September 2012. Translated by James Balowski.]