Medan Wage Rally Forces 25 Companies to Halt Operations
Medan. A large-scale labor rally in Medan forced dozens of companies to suspend operations on Thursday, with the firms’ workers following the lead of their Jakarta counterparts by demanding a significant minimum wage increase.
Thousands of workers from Medan and surrounding areas continued their rally for a second day on Thursday, after their Wednesday protest caused widespread traffic jams across the North Sumatra capital.
They demanded a minimum wage increase to Rp 2.2 million ($228) per month for North Sumatra, almost double the current minimum wage of Rp 1,375,000. The strikers’ demand matches the amount agreed to recently by Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo for Jakarta.
“As long as our demand is not met by the government, these types of actions will continue,” Erwin Manalu, an official with the Fighting Workers and Laborers (PBM), which organized the rally, said in Medan on Thursday.
“We believe employers will not be burdened too much if they have to pay us at the level we demand. Employers are much more burdened by the multitude of levies demanded by individuals in government,” he added.
The North Sumatra branch of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) said on Thursday that the two-day rally had forced as many as 25 companies in Medan to halt operations.
Johan Brien, the deputy head of the branch, warned rallying laborers that they would not get paid if they continued, adding that those joining the rallies were forcing factories in the provincial capital to deny others the opportunity to work.
“The laborers are getting more irresponsible with their actions. The sweeping this morning did not allow factories to produce. Companies are thus applying ‘no work, no pay,’ ” Johan told tempo.co. “How will we pay the workers if the factories can’t produce?”
Local palm oil producer Musim Mas said it suffered Rp 5 billion in losses per day as the rally forced it to cease operations.
“Musim Mas workers are paid higher than the UMP [provincial minimum wage]. However, the sweeping forced our laborers to join the rallies,” Musim Mas spokesman Julius said.
Pahala Napitupulu, who heads the 1992 All Indonesia Labor Union, said he believed the protests would not lead to investor flight from North Sumatra.
“So far the government has not given any attention to the welfare of workers. They don’t care about the fate of workers. Investors are capable of paying more than Rp 2 million in wages as long as there are no more levies demanded by irresponsible individuals,” Pahala said.
Suara Pembaruan & JG