Tue, 25 Oct 1994

Strikes drop drastically in E. Jakarta

JAKARTA (JP): Industrial strikes in East Jakarta, where 2,000 factories operate, have drastically decreased this year, possibly due to better welfare, a local official said yesterday.

"In the first semester of this year 60 strikes were registered, two in July, two in August and none in the last two months," Iskandar, head of the labor standards section at the city manpower office, told The Jakarta Post.

Data from the manpower office shows the number of labor strikes in East Jakarta reached almost 200 last year.

East Jakarta is home to 2,000 companies, most of them in the Pulogadung industrial estate. Only 11 percent of the companies in the mayoralty have so far signed collective labor agreements (KKB) with their workers.

Iskandar hailed an operation, launched by the government earlier this year, to enforce the labor law and rulings in all companies in Greater Jakarta.

"The law threatens to bring employers, infringing regulations, to court, and government officials found guilty of neglecting the enforcement of the law will be punished," he said.

Most industrial strikes and labor disputes in the past were caused mainly by the negligence of employers to abide by the regulations, he said, adding there were alleged collusion between employers and government apparatus.

"The management is not 'illiterate' in law but they often violate it to optimally reduce labor costs," he said. "We no longer maintain industrial and economic development at the expense of cheap labor wages."


He said almost all industrial strikes that occurred in the past were staged by workers demanding higher wages and other worker rights, such as the monthly leave for female workers, transportation and health allowances.

Many labor activists and observers said reluctance of employers to give better welfare for workers at that time was caused mainly by the "the invisible cost" which had to be paid to certain groups and individuals in a bid to help facilitate their businesses.

Iskandar also blamed the rebel Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union (SBSI) and many local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for masterminding industrial strikes in the past.

He said SBSI, which is not recognized by the government, and NGOs were utilizing the strikes for the sake of the organizations' own interests.

"Their objectives are not to make labor conditions better but to "earn life" by discrediting the government in international forums," he said. (rms)