Forty-seven companies are exempt from having to pay their employees the new minimum wage, Manpower Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said on Monday.
Speaking at a hearing at the House of Representatives, Muhaimin said the 47 firms, out of 941 who asked for an exemption, were the only ones to have been approved. He added that many applications were still being evaluated.
“Based on interim reports, there are 47 companies in various provinces whose requests to be exempted from paying the minimum wage [agreed on at the end of last year] have been approved by the governors of the respective provinces,” the minister said. “The decision to approve a request is up to the governor.”
The minimum wage for 2013, which is determined by region, has been the center of a heated national debate after substantial increases were agreed upon in key areas with high concentrations of labor-intensive industries, including in Jakarta and West Java.
Employers’ groups have warned that the 44 percent increase in the Jakarta minimum wage — from Rp 1.5 million to Rp 2.2 million ($156 to $228) a month — would hurt businesses and force employers to institute layoffs.
In West Java, home to the country’s automotive and electronics manufacturing hubs as well as the labor-intensive textile industry, the minimum wage was increased by an average of 25 percent.
The minimum wage in Bekasi, home to several key industrial estates, is Rp 2.1 million, almost on a par with Jakarta.
Muhaimin called on employers and workers to hash out their differences constructively.