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We Work Hard for our Money

Bali Workers March For Higher Wages on May Day

(5/4/2013) While large public political and rallies in Bali are rare; the taste for such public displays possibly tempered by the relative prosperity of the province in comparison to other areas of Indonesia and concerns that demonstrations may deter people from visiting Bali.

An exception to this unspoken rule, however, ocurred on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 when hundreds of workers, mostly from the Island’s tourism industry, gathered in front of the governor’s office in downtown Denpasar to mark International Workers Day.

The protestors voiced pronouncements criticizing the lack of attention given by policymakers to the economic welfare of the working class in Bali. As reported by The Jakarta Post, representatives from the Bali Workers Union Forum carried banners demanding a higher minimum wage level be established.

Ihsan Tantowi, who is a member of the Forum and chairman of the National Front for the Struggle of Indonesian Workers (FNPBI), claims the current minimum wage level set by the government is insufficient to improve the welfare of workers. “The minimum wage is unfair for workers, while companies continue to thrive with huge profits,” he said.

The current minimum wage in Bali set by the government is Rp. 1,181,000 (US$118) per month. This figure is 20% more than the minimum wage in effect just one year before.

The minimum wage varies by regency in Bali with Badung having the highest minimum wage of Rp. 1,401,000 (US$140).

Protestors are calling on the government to set different minimum wage levels for different sectors of the economy, claiming the tourism sector is able to pay higher living wage levels to their workers.

Protestors also called for an end to outsourcing and the “daily worker system” that allows companies to pay their staff on a day-to-day basis in order to avoid paying other benefits mandated under law.