Indonesian labour unions file lawsuit on minimum wage delay

Bandung (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Major confederations of labour unions have filed a lawsuit against the West Java administration regarding the postponement of the 2013 regional minimum wage (UMR).

The lawsuit was filed yesterday at the Bandung State Administrative Court (PTUN) against West Java Gubernatorial Decree No. 561, which allows 257 companies in 11 regencies and mayoralties to postpone implementation of the 2013 minimum wage that was issued on January 18.

Trade Union Rights centre activist Ari Lazuardi said his group filed the lawsuit because it felt the wage postponement process was not in line with procedures.

Manpower and Transmigration Ministerial Decree No. 231/MEN/ 2003 on UMR postponement guidelines requires that any application for UMR delay must meet several requirements, including a decision from labour unions at the company level.

"Many companies, which lacked approval from labour unions, immediately submitted postponement requests to the governor and were granted, not to mention intimidation of workers and labour unions," Ari said.

Workers will not be paid in accordance with the 2013 UMR set by the respective regions as long as the decree remains in place.

In November 2012, West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan accepted the UMR increase proposed by 26 regional administrations.

Based on estimates of average minimum wage increases in five industrial areas, the average increase of the regency and city minimum wage in West Java this year is 25.6 per cent.

The regions with UMR exceeding 2 million rupiah (US$206) are Bekasi municipality, which increased the UMR from 1.47 million rupiah to 2.1 million rupiah; the municipality of Bogor, which jumped from 1,174,200 to 2,002,000 rupiah; Bogor regency, which saw a rise from 1,269,320 to 2,002,000 rupiah; and Karawang regency, where the UMR went from 1,269,227 rupiah to 2 million rupiah.

Ari said companies that had submitted postponement proposals were mainly found in Purwakarta, Karawang and Bogor.

West Java Manpower and Transmigration Agency head Hening Widiatmoko said his office had strictly selected postponement applications.

"The main requirement of a company seeking a postponement included approval from labour union representatives at the company, without which, we will reject the application," Hening said.

Hening said his office would submit the applications for a UMR postponement to the governor as they had been approved by the West Java Renumeration Council, in which labour representatives were present.

Around 90 per cent of companies applying for postponement are in the textile, garment and footwear industries.

"They are labour-intensive industries employing around 233,000 workers. Should they not be allowed to reschedule their UMR [payment], they could immediately close and their workers would be laid-off," Hening said.

Hening said his office was ready to follow the legal process should the case go to court.

M. Fandrain Hadistianto, who also works on the Trade Union Rights centre advocacy team, said the lawsuit was part of the national agenda of the Indonesian Workers Council to oppose UMR postponements.

A similar suits will be filed in North Sumatra, Banten, Jakarta, Central Java, East Java, South Sulawesi and Riau Islands.

"Actually, the companies can afford to pay their workers as they are not losing. However, they don't want to cut their profit margins," he said.

*US$1=9,708 rupiah


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