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Millions strike over subcontracting

Workers want an end to outsourced labor

Around 15,000 police were mobilized in Jakarta Around 15,000 police were mobilized in Jakarta
  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • October 3, 2012
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Around three million workers in 24 cities and 80 industrial estates across the country went on strike today to protest against subcontracting, a practice they say allows companies and employment agencies  to exploit laborers.

Last week, Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said he had asked for the immediate closure of agencies that fail to give adequate wages or benefits, after thousands of workers staged rallies outside his office in Central Jakarta.

He also said the government will issue a moratorium on employment agency licenses next month as it assesses which ones may be treating workers unfairly.

However, Said Iqbal from the Confederation of Indonesian Workers’ Union expressed doubts on the minister's pledge.

“We've often staged rallies, yet the government’s reaction remains the same… only making promises and not directly taking action,” he said.

Earlier, Minister of Industry Mohamad Suleman called on workers not to disrupt companies’ production as it could harm economic stability.

“Staging a rally is every citizen’s right. In fact, our country is a democratic one. The most important thing is how to keep the companies’ production activities safe,” he said.

Sofjan Wanandi, chairman of the Indonesian Employers Association, agreed.

“The strikes really harm employers. So we call for the government to take strict action. Don’t just say ‘yes’ to workers’ demands but also think about the employers’ fate,” he said.

He said it will be difficult to get rid of employment agencies. “I think [we] don’t need to abolish outsourcing practices," he said. "What [we] need to do is to take firm action against companies which do not obey regulations."

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