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AP News

Indonesian laborers go on nationwide pay strike

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Laborers across Indonesia went on the second day of a strike Friday to demand more benefits and higher pay, even as a raise was granted for workers in the capital.

Gov. Joko "Jokowi" Widodo approved a hike from 2.2 million rupiah ($194) to 2.4 million rupiah ($211) for workers in the capital, Jakarta.

Said Iqbal, chairman of the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions, estimated about 2 million workers in 20 of the country's 34 provinces walked off the job Thursday on the first day of the two-day strike. Police say the numbers are much lower because many ignored the strike call.

Iqbal said the main demand was a minimum wage hike, which would raise salaries in Jakarta to 3.7 million rupiah ($330) per month. The same workers were given a 44 percent pay increase following similar protests last year that involved hundreds of thousands of workers nationwide.

The laborers also are demanding that the government provide benefits and end the hiring of temporary contract workers, Iqbal said.

Iqbal said at least three people were injured after being stabbed during a clash with members of a youth organization who were angered when some striking laborers tried to force others to walk off the job.

Jakarta police spokesman Col. Rikwanto, who like many Indonesians uses one name, said more than 17,300 security personnel were deployed to safeguard the capital and surrounding areas.

The cost of living has increased dramatically in Indonesia after the government cut fuel subsidies this summer amid soaring inflation and a weakening of the local currency against the dollar.

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