16 September, 201330 000 workers demonstrated against new presidential regulations in front of the State Palace in Jakarta, demanding a wage increase of at least 50% for 2014. There were also protests in Bandung, Cinahi and Subang.
The mass rallies on 5 September in Jakarta come as a response to increased living costs after the Indonesian government increased the fuel price. While the government has suggested a maximum increase of the current minimum wage of 20%, trade unions are demanding that it is at least doubled in order to maintain purchasing power.
There are fears that the new regulation is a return to a regime of cheap labour, with Indonesian workers’ salaries already being below the average salaries in neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Thailand.
Trade unions also demand a mandatory health insurance for everyone as of January 2014. The government plans a gradual implementation ending in 2019, which is slammed by unionists as too slow.
The trade union movement in Indonesia face another challenge related to the new law on Mass Organization and the National Security Act. As the new legislation limits the rights of freedom of association, it also cuts short future rallies and demonstrations.
Indonesian trade unions vow to “continue the struggle until the government withdraws the new regulation about minimum wage”.