At the rally, they urged the government to review the policy, which included the abolition of a mandatory Indonesian language proficiency test for foreign workers, as it would only harm local workers in the country.
“All foreign workers in Indonesia must be able to speak Indonesian. Reject foreign workers in Cilacap who cannot speak Indonesian fluently,” said a protester who spoke from the top of a truck. The workers demonstrated in front of the Cilacap regent’s office, forcing Cilacap Regent Tatto S. Pamuji to take part in the rally.
Among labor unions participating in the rally were the Chemical, Energy and Mining Industries Federation of Labor Unions (FSP-KEP), the Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers Unions (FSPMI), the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (GSBI) and the Mass Labor Movement (Gemuruh). Several labor union officials from security services company Nawakara Perkasa Nusantara (PUK NPN) 911 also joined the rally.
Rally coordinator Agus Hidayat said easing foreign worker requirements would only bring suffering to local workers. “All this time, we have been miserable, with a minimum wage below the cost of basic living needs per month,” he said.
“The use of foreign workers should not violate Law No. 13/2003 on industrial relations, which will eventually close opportunities to local workers to get decent work and slow down the country’s economic growth,” said Agus.
“In Cilacap, there are hundreds of foreign workers. They are very exclusive people. They don’t want to be acquainted with us. They are living in luxurious hotels while our salaries are far from enough to cover just our basic needs,” said Darmono, 34.
He urged the government to review its policy on the minimum wage so it could cover basic needs of workers in the regency.
According to the workers, the minimum wage in Cilacap of Rp 1.2 million (US$85.2) per month was not enough to cover basic living costs.
Responding to their demands, Tatto said he would convey Cilacap workers’ aspirations to decision makers in Jakarta.
“This is because the authority to make policies on foreign workers is not in my hands as a regent. It is the authority of the central government,” Tatto said. (ebf)