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Indonesia to increase minimum wage by average 25.09%.

JAKARTA, Feb. 22 Kyodo

Indonesia will increase the minimum wage by an average 25.09%, effective April 1, with the restive province of Aceh getting the highest increase, newspapers reported Tuesday.

Labor unions seeking a 50% increase are planning to call a general strike, the newspapers said.

The increases were determined independently by 27 provinces in the country following the adoption of laws on regional autonomy and fiscal balance last year by the House of Representatives.

The newspapers reported that Aceh will receive the highest hike of 54.97%, taking its monthly minimum wage level to 265,000 rupiah (about $35), while the resort island of Bali will have the lowest increase rate of 14.6%, bringing it to 214,300 rupiah.

Syaufi'i Syamsuddin, director general of industrial relations and labor standards, acknowledged that despite the increases, the new minimum wage for most regions barely covers the monthly living expenses of a single person.

The minimum wage level in Jakarta, where the cost of living is one of the highest in the country, covers only 81.42% of the estimated subsistence level.

Labor unions across the country have threatened to call a general strike if the minimum wage is not increased by at least 50%.

"We will go ahead with our plan to call for a nationwide strike," Jacob Nuwa Wea, chairman of the Federation of All Indonesian Workers Unions, told the English-language daily Jakarta Post.

"We are talking with other unions to come to a common response to the new regional minimum wage," he said.

Hikayat Atika Karwa, an official of the federation, told Kyodo News they have not decided on the specific date of the national strike, but added all of the federation's branches all over the country will hold a meeting Saturday to decide on the date.

"We are talking with other unions to come to a common response to the new regional minimum wage," he said.

Wea, who is also a member of parliament from the Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle chaired by Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri, has said workers in industrial plants no longer need the candles, the kerosene and the low-priced rice that are included in the current wage components.

He said the workers need to eventually have the purchasing power to own a house, buy clothing, and send their children to school.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Feb 28, 2000
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