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Workers unions protest new Jakarta Governor Anies over broken minimum wage promise: 'We were just used'

Coconuts Jakarta - November 10, 2017

There's no doubt that Islamic hardliners and their politicized protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama played a major role in current Governor Anies Baswedan's election victory. But many analysts also argued that economic populism played a significant role as well, with Anies locking up the official support of numerous Jakarta workers unions by promising to raise the capital's minimum wage based on their recommendations.

But when Anies' administration announced last week that Jakarta's official minimum wage for 2018 would be raised from the current IDR 3.3 million (US$244) to just IDR 3.6 million, as opposed to the IDR 3.9 million that Anies had pledged to give the workers unions, they quickly changed from his supporters to his detractors, leading to several protest including one today.

The Jakarta Worker's Prosperity Union Confederation (KSBSI) also held an action in front of City Hall yesterday and their coordinator, Dwi Harto, made it clear exactly how he and his fellow unionists felt about the broken minimum wage promise.

"We say we were just used as tools, as commodities, because (Anies Baswedan) got our votes just for the sake of winning the elections," Dwi said as quoted by Kompas.

According to Dwi, Anies and Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno had signed a political contract with workers during their campaign in which he promised to not use "Government Regulation (PP) No. 78 of 2015 on Wages" to calculate the minimum wage increase, as the unions felt that regulation did not sufficiently account for actual cost of living increases and inflation.

Last week, Confederation of Indonesian Workers Unions (KSPI) chair Kahar S. Cahyono said that workers had supported the Anies-Sandi ticket on the basis of the Rp 3.9 minimum wage promise and that they were now considering revoking their support. They have also threatened to sue over the minimum wage in the State Administrative Court (PTUN) should Anies not revise his decision.

KSPI president Said Iqbal said that Anies' decision to fulfill the wishes of the business community by keeping the minimum wage increase minimal was especially disappointing compared to his predecessor Ahok.

"Actually, Ahok was much bolder and noble in deciding the minimum wage when he was in office than Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno, who just made promises," Said said in a written statement last week.

Said mentioned that Ahok had followed KSPI's recommendations and raised the minimum wage by 14.8% in accordance with the 2003 Manpower Law, which took into account cost of living surveys and inflation.

To try and soften the blow of the lower than promised wage hike, Anies promised to provide IDR 685 billion in food subsidies to minimum wage workers as well as free use of the Transjakarta busway system.

But that seems to be far from enough to assuage the workers. Union reps said few of their members worked near areas accessible by the busway and food subsidies were no replacement for a decent living wage.

On Tuesday, KSPI president Said said that the coalition had to punish Anies both morally and politically for breaking the contract he had signed.

The workers unions aren't the only ones who feel like they were politically exploited by Anies. After the new governor failed to attend an anti-Ahok protest anniversary event on November 2, Eggy Sudjana, lawyer to infamous Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab, lamented, "Do not let it be that the when the Muslims who supported him sincerely need his presence, he does not come. It means he was just using us."

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/workers-unions-protest-new-jakarta-governor-anies-broken-minimum-wage-promise-just-used/.

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