Indonesian worker organizations held frequent rallies on the streets and staged massive demonstrations in the capital city of Jakarta since the middle of this month to urge the government to meet their demand for better welfare.
The protesting workers were even launching sweeping campaign in factories around the capital city, asking workers in the factories to join the demonstrations to raise their demands. Jakarta and its outskirts are home to large-scale factories that employ hundreds of thousands of workers from various regions across the country.
They demanded government raise their basic salary by 50 percent to 3.7 million rupiah (about 340 U.S. dollars) per month starting next year, erase the outsourcing human resource system, improve social insurance and increase the items of basic cost of living ( KHL) to 84 from the existing 60. The KHL was used as parameter instrument to consider salary increase for workers.
Should government fail to meet with their demands, workers threatened to stage nationwide strike from Thursday to Friday.
"We are not playing around. This is not a threat, but what happens now is the government's non-siding up stance to workers," said Winarso, chairman of the Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers Union (FSPMI) in a massive demonstration in front of Jakarta city hall on Tuesday.
Thousands of workers took part in the demonstration that they described as a warming-up session for the planned nationwide strike. Workers were told to stop working in their workplaces.
The protesting workers said that the planned nationwide strike was intended to show workers'power and existence to negotiate their demands with government.
The Jakarta municipal government previously had responded to workers'demands by increasing their provincial minimum salary ( UMP) standard to 2.2 million rupiah (about 202 U.S. dollars) for those working in factories in and around the capital city last year, or 45 percent from the previous 1.9 million rupiah (about 174 U.S. dollars).
Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama said earlier on Monday that Jakarta administration could not comply with the workers' demand this time as the decision to increase their salary standard had been delivered recently.
"We cannot (do that) in one or two years. We had just delivered it and it had obtained supports. I think we should focus first on KHL items. For the UMP issue, we would learn from the ongoing economy development," Basuki said.
On a different occasion, Chairman of Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) Sofyan Wanandi said on Tuesday that the workers'idea to hold nationwide strike would exacerbate the good investment atmosphere that has been going on in the country as it would scare investors planning to invest in Indonesia.
He added that government should address the workers'demand for affordable houses, access to health care and transportation, among other benefits.
The government must play its role by controlling the inflation so as to prevent prices of daily necessities from skyrocketing, while the management should raise the UMP and provide insurance for workers, he said.