Thu, 11 May 2000

Workers demand salary increase

JAKARTA (JP): Some 700 workers from four different companies protested in the House of Representatives (DPR) compound on Wednesday, demanding their employers raise their salaries by up to 150 percent.

The protesters were grouped under the National Front for Indonesian Workers Struggle (FNPBI) and the Workers Committee for Reform Action (Kobar).

The workers were from garment factory PT Kharisma, textile company PT Roda Vivatex, marble producer PT Intinusa and glue factory PT Polychemie.

PT Kharisma is located in Cakung, East Jakarta; PT Roda Vivatex and PT Intinusa in Citereup, Bogor; and PT Polychemie in Cikarang.

The workers aired their demands in the Nusantara III building in the DPR compound.

Besides protesting for a salary increase, the workers also demanded that their transportation allowances be raised from Rp 7,500 (90 U.S. cents) to Rp 12,500.

"We are no longer able to cover our daily expenses since the prices of basic needs have soared after the economic crisis," Siswanto, a worker at PT Intinusa, said.

Some workers gave speeches through megaphones, criticizing the government for its failure to improve workers' welfare.

"President Abdurrahman Wahid and Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri remain unable to improve workers' welfare, even though both have been in power for six months already.

"The workers should no longer depend on the government in fighting for their interests, but on their own strength. We should try to seek our own way to meet our interests," one protester said.

The noisy protesters unfurled banners and posters saying: "Stop intimidation of workers", "Kobar" and FNPBI."

Only a few police personnel kept an eye on the protest.

Up until 1 p.m, the workers were still in the DPR compound, while waiting for their representatives who met with legislators from the National Awakening Party (PKB) faction and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) faction.

The protest followed a large rally held in the building's compound on May 1 to commemorate International Labor Day. (asa)