Fri, 12 May 2000

Street workers go on strike

BOGOR (JP): Some 400 temporary workers of the Bogor sanitation agency went on strike on Thursday, demanding wage increases equal to the official regional minimum wage (UMR) plus several basic allowances.

The protesters, including truck drivers, street sweepers and garbage workers, said the money they received monthly from the agency -- between Rp 90,000 and Rp 105,000 -- was far from enough to meet their living costs.

"Such a wage is of course inadequate for living today even though there's still a (monthly) allowance of Rp 4,000 for those who perform well," truck driver Syamsudin said.

The regional minimum wage in Bogor has been set at Rp 270,000 since last month from the previous rate of Rp 230,000.

According to Syamsudin, the agency sets the monthly wages based on the educational background of the workers, namely Rp 90,000 for elementary school graduates, Rp 97,000 for junior high school graduates while senior high school graduates receive Rp 105,000 per month.

The agency even cuts Rp 2,000 every month from the small amount of money, saying that it's used for the workers' cooperatives.

The striking workers also demanded the agency promote their status to become civil servants so that they are eligible for several government-sponsored subsidies, such as for health care.

In response to the workers demands, the agency's head Hari Harsono said that his office could understand the workers' problems, adding that he would take the matter seriously.

But, he insisted, the workers have no rights to ask the agency to pay them based on the UMR rate since they are not employees of a private company.

The sanitary agency employs 117 civil servants and 409 temporary workers.

Hari said that their wages had actually been raised to between Rp 90,000 and Rp 120,000 from between Rp 60,000 to Rp 90,000 previously.

"If they want to become civil servants they must pass certain tests," he said.(21/ind)