Indonesian union condemns politicians' pay increase

January 26, 2000

Indonesia's militant trade union, the Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI), on January 20 condemned the minister of finance Bambang Sudibyo's proposal to increase the salaries of senior politicians. The increases are contained in the plan for the national budget being discussed by parliament.

The increases have been backed by Megawati Sukarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle. At present, politicians' basic monthly pay ranges from 2.3 million rupiah for governors and 5.6 million rupiah for ministers, up to 33 million rupiah for the president. Politicians enjoy a range of allowances on top of these salaries.

"Meanwhile, we watch millions of Indonesian workers suffer as they receive wages of only 7500 rupiah a day, or less. Worse, many small peasants still live under the poverty line", the FNPBI statement said.

It continued, "The workers work hard, only to enrich a few employers. The workers have to pay taxes to the government and it is these taxes that pay the salaries and provide the facilities needed by the apparatus."

The FNPBI said that the proposed national budget deficit for 2000 would be covered by the International Monetary Fund. In return for this "grant", the government will cut subsidies on fuel and electricity. "In the end, it will make people suffer ... This is contrary to what government has to do to improve social welfare. The government should prioritise maintaining these subsidies above increasing politicians' salaries", the FNPBI said.

The union is demanding a minimum 100% wage increase for workers and state employees, an end to subsidy cuts for basic commodities, an end to all sackings, the reduction of the work week to 32 hours and an end to the military's continuing role in Indonesia's political system.

On January 20, 50 FNPBI members protested outside parliament in support of these demands.

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