Indonesian workers protest at Japanese embassy

Featured - December 8th, 2012
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Around 2,000 Indonesian workers demonstrated in front of the Japanese embassy in Jakarta in protest over layoffs and labor practices at Japanese companies in the country.

Similar rallies were held across the city at the embassies of Italy, Malaysia and South Korea, with an estimated crowd of 5,000 to 7,000 workers participating in the demonstrations, police said, adding that the number will likely increase.

An Indonesian labor union accused the companies from the countries of violating labor rights and demanded that they abolish outsourcing, the common practice among foreign companies to hire people on a contractual basis with limited benefits, as more businesses move to the country where wages are the lowest in Asia, Kyodo reports.

Wednesday’s protests erupted following mass layoffs at Japanese vehicle parts manufacturer PT Mitsuba Indonesia Pipe Parts of 1,300 workers.

“We want them to be rehired,” a labor union representative said.

Andi Gani Naniwea, president of the Confederation of the All-Indonesia Workers’ Associations, told reporters a 10 million-strong national strike will be held January 10 if the government doesn’t take action against the companies.

“If the strike happens, companies will lose about 120 trillion rupiah ($12.5 billion) a day and we plan for the strike to last for three days,” Naniwea said.

This comes after Jakarta approved a 40% minimum wage hike, raising concerns that it could hurt investments in the country amid rapid economic growth.