It might have taken a crippling strike last week by workers in Bekasi to get the government moving on mediating between employers and unions over minimum wages, but the quick action taken this week is a positive sign.
The Minister of Manpower and Transmigration sat down employers, unions and regional government leaders to hammer out a deal that on the surface is agreeable to all parties. The Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) has agreed to withdraw the lawsuit it pursued against a government decree to raise Tangerangâ€™s minimum wage from Rp 1,379,000 to Rp 1,527,150 ($153 to $170).
In return, a massive strike planned by workers in Tangerang on Friday, which would have caused chaos akin to that caused in Bekasi last week, has been averted. Thatâ€™s good, because strikes are counterproductive in the long term even if they do achieve some short-term goals. One only has to look at the situation in England in the early 1980s to appreciate the destructive nature of strikes.
We welcome and applaud the tripartite agreement. It will hopefully create a better understanding between employers and workers and lead to more harmonious relations in the future. Companies that cannot meet minimum wage requirements now have recourse and can bring their case before the regional government.
It was also critical that the agreement clearly stated that any party that incites public unrest and disturbs the peace would be penalized according to existing laws. There can be no excuse for disrupting traffic or crippling a major highway, no matter what reason anyone may have.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also warned all sides that what happened last week in Bekasi would not be tolerated.
It is important that the government take a firm stance on such matters as only it can enforce security and bring all parties to the table.
Indonesia has much going for it now. It is attracting large amounts of foreign investment and local businesses are also expanding. This will create thousands of jobs for all Indonesians. It would be a real shame if the actions of a few unions damaged the image of the country and reversed this positive trend.