News Focus

Indonesian workers continue fighting for decent wage, better benefits

Indonesian workers continue fighting for decent wage, better benefits


International Labor Day or May Day is celebrated annually on May 1 by workers across countries to highlight certain causes—better wages, better benefits and improved working conditions.

In more than 80 countries, including Indonesia, May Day is a national holiday. This year’s theme of International Labor Day 2019 is “Sustainable Pension for all: The Role of Social Partners”.

Many workers in Indonesia, however, do not have pension benefits and, in fact, are still struggling for basic rights such as decent wages.

Thousands of Indonesian workers across the country commemorated Labor Day on May 1. In Jakarta, at least 40 thousands workers, including journalists, expressed concern as many of them are underpaid, and lack social benefits and protection.

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) demanded that media companies abide by the Law on Manpower and be consistent in implementing the regulation. President of the Confederation of All Indonesia Labor Union (KSPI) Said Iqbal said May Day was a reminder to labor activists to continue fighting for their cause.

“The welfare of workers, including contract workers, must be improved. Social insurance for health and manpower must be improved and electricity tariff must be reduced,” Iqbal said, adding that the outsourcing system must also be abolished.

KSPI invited presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto to speak before workers during the May Day gathering held at the Indoor Tennis court in Senayan, Jakarta, on May 1.

"Workers are the backbone of the national economy. Laborers, together with farmers and fishermen, produce products for the nation and the people," Subianto said.

'Happy labors day. May the workers' struggle for the certainty of the future of the workers and their families materialize,” the retired general said.

May Day rallies across Indonesia, and particularly in Jakarta, were relatively peaceful and orderly, except for Bandung (West Java), where unknown intruders triggered chaos.

"The security situation in Indonesia while commemorating May Day could be termed as highly conducive," Head of the National Police Information Bureau Brigadier General Dedi remarked.

A total of 80 thousand joint personnel of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI), Indonesian National Police, and municipal police units were stationed to ensure that the security situation was under control.

"May this atmosphere be maintained during every commemoration of May Day," Manpower Minister M. Hanif Dhakiri said, lauding the conducive conditions during May Day.

Human resources development is high on the list of the government's priorities in 2019, the minister said.

"Right now, we need quality human resources in adequate numbers, which are evenly distributed across Indonesia," he said.

According to him, the real problem currently facing Indonesia in the manpower sector is inadequate expertise.

The problem is not merely the responsibility of the government, but of labor unions and employers as well, he said.

To deal with the disparities in expertise, the Jokowi Administration is continuing to improve the classification of vocational training, he said.

"Vocational training is aimed at providing the labor force with soft and hard skills to enable them to find jobs and open businesses," he said.

The Jokowi government has also taken various steps to improve the welfare of workers, including raising their wages every year, launching a worker housing program and expanding social security for workers, according to the minister.

Meanwhile, the Jokowi Administration has pledged to materialize three agreements reached during a meeting between President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and several leaders of labor unions in Bogor, West Java, on April 26, 2019, Chief of the Presidential Staff Moeldoko said.

"The meeting yielded three agreements and all of them will most likely be materialized," Moeldoko said at the Jakarta Police Headquarters on May Day, following the inauguration of a help desk for workers at the police office.

First, the President agreed to revise the Government Regulation (PP) No 78 year 2015 on salaries, as soon as possible.

"The Government needs to review and even revise the PP No 78 Year 2015. We want to look for a new formula, which will mutually benefit both workers and businessmen. The role of the Government to find a new balance is not easy," he said.

Second, the President is considering establishing childcare rooms in every company and in the industrial zone so children are not neglected because their parents are working.

Third, the Government has decided to set up help desks for workers in every police office across Indonesia to sort out complaints from workers. Sixteen help desks for laborers have been established in several provinces.