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Des '05

Employers guilty of underpaying workers: Activists

Labor activists have accused employers and the government of treating workers inhumanely by underpaying a great number of them.

Jacob Nuwa Wea, chairman of the Confederation of All-Indonesian Workers Union (KSPSI), said the recent massive labor demonstrations were an expression of frustration over poor work conditions and unfair treatment.

“In fact, most workers are still underpaid, as reflected in the low wage levels in almost all provinces and regencies. It is impossible for a single worker in the East Java regency of Madiun to meet his/her daily needs with the monthly minimum wage of Rp 300,000 (US$30) or another single worker in North Sumatra with Rp 550,000. The amount is just enough to cover their monthly transportation costs to their workplace,” he said.

Nuwa Wea, a former manpower minister, was speaking on Tuesday at a tripartite summit between labor unions, the government and employers.

Workers in North Sumatra, West Java, Banten and East Java recently staged rallies to protest the newly set minimum wages, which will become effective on Jan. 1.

Nuwa Wea said labor unions could not fight for a significant increase in minimum wages because tripartite negotiations on minimum wages were dominated by employers and the government.

“Labor unions have given up as the government has taken the employers’ side,” he added.

Rekson Silaban, chairman of the Federation of Indonesian Prosperity Trade Unions (KSBSI), said the low wage levels illustrated that both the government and employers had ignored the 2003 Labor Law, which stipulates that minimum wage levels should be equal to what is called humane living needs (KHL).

“We (the national tripartite body) have agreed to set 46 parameters to set KHL, but the minimum wage levels have remained low because there is no political commitment to push the wage higher,” he said.

He said there was a trend among employers to put new employees on contract or to outsource work to other companies to reduce labor costs.

Sofyan Wanandi, chairman of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo), declined to comment on the low wage levels but instead said employers and workers should intensify bipartite negotiations to settle disputes peacefully and to avoid labor dismissals that would increase unemployment.

“The government should revise the labor law to attract more foreign labor-intensive investment to help ease unemployment,” he said.

Nuwa Wea urged the government to make a new law on the national wage system to narrow the widening gap in the current remuneration system.

“It is quite unfair that a single worker is paid Rp 300,000 monthly while the central bank governor is paid Rp 230 million a month. Expatriates are also paid higher than locals,” he said.

Sumber : (Ridwan Max Sijabat ) The Jakarta Post (broken link)

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