Thousands of workers take to the streets to oppose minimum wage cap

Kompas Newspaper – October 18, 2013
Workers march from HI traffic circle to State Palace to protest low wages - December 22, 2012 (Kompas)
Workers march from HI traffic circle to State Palace to protest low wages - December 22, 2012 (Kompas)

Jakarta – Thousands of workers from Jakarta and surrounding areas demonstrated demanding welfare improvements on Thursday October 17. The action created traffic jams between Jl. Jenderal Sudirman, Jl Thamrin, the Indonesia traffic circle and in the vicinity of the State Palace. Similar protest were held in West and East Java.

In speeches in front of the State Palace, protest leaders demanded the cancelation of Presidential Instruction (Inpres) Number 9/2013 on minimum wages, which they said sides with employers and restricts efforts to achieve decent wages.

Arriving on scores of busses, the workers marched from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle towards the State Place, although police prevented them from approaching the Palace grounds. During the action the workers unfurled banners with demands rejecting low wages and calling for the abolition of contract labour (outsourcing).

The demonstrators filled Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara in front of the State Palace and spilling onto Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat in front of the Radio Republic Indonesia building. Scores of security personnel from the national police headquarters, the Central Jakarta Metro Jaya municipal police and Gambir sectoral police watched over the action.

Also on Thursday, in Tangerang, Banten, hundreds of workers employed by the company PT Wingoh Albindo from the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (KSBI) also held a strike action making similar demands. They occupied the streets and closed the gates of the company located on Jl. Yos Sudarso in the Aster industrial zone in Rawa Bamban, Tangerang city.

The strike action and blockade was held because negotiation between the workers and company management had broken down over issues related to the social security program (Jamsostek), the municipal minimum wage (UMK) and other work agreements. The action proceed peacefully.

“The company is still refusing to come to an agreement with workers. The company’s attitude gives the impression that they don’t want to be responsible”, said action coordinator Murdi. Related to this, said Murdi, workers have reported the company the Tangerang City Labour and Transmigration Office (Disnakertrans).

In the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya, thousand of workers also demonstrated rejecting Presidential Instruction Number 9/2013. “We are calling on the president to revoke the Inpres and that the 2014 UMK for the East Java 1 ring to be increased to a minimum of 3 million rupiah a month and by a minimum of 50 percent for other areas”, said Jamaludin, the deputy secretary for the East Java Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI). The East Java 1 ring area covers Surabaya, Sidoarjo, Gresik, Pasuruan and Mojokerto.

In Sukabumi regency, West Java meanwhile, around 100 workers went to the Sukabumi regent’s official residence to hold a dialog with the Regent Sukmawaijaya. Earlier, the Sukabumi regency wage board had set the reasonable living cost index (KHL) for 2013 at 1,560,000 rupiah a month. (PIN/INK/DEN/HEI)


Presidential Instruction (Inpres) Number 9/2013 on minimum wages was signed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on September 27. The instruction places a cap on minimum wages increases for labor intensive industries based on the basic cost of living (KHL), economic growth and the labour productivity.

[Inpres soal Upah Ditolak – Kompas. Jumat, 18 Oktober 2013. Translated by James Balowski.]