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Indonesian workers to stage mass protest against layoffs

[JAKARTA] Indonesian trade unions expect tens of thousands of workers to call for higher wages at a mass protest against job cuts on Tuesday, upping pressure on the government as it struggles to kickstart an economy growing at its slowest in six years.

Labour-intensive sectors have shed thousands of jobs in recent months, while workers contend with rising food prices that made Indonesia's annual inflation, at 7.26 per cent in July, the highest in the region.

"We are expecting up to 100,000 layoffs this we ask the government to stop the rhetoric and come up with regulations to save workers' purchasing power," said Subianto, secretary general of the Indonesian Workers Confederation, which has 2 million members and is one of several unions participating in the protest.

Some 8,000 police are expected to be deployed to marshall the protest, with at least 50,000 workers due to march in the capital Jakarta, Jakarta-based risk consultancy Concord Consulting said on Monday.

Unemployment in Southeast Asia's largest economy stood at 5.81 per cent in February, according to official statistics, but analysts say that doesn't cover the informal sector and the real figure could be much higher.

Indonesia plans to introduce a stimulus package this week to boost economic activity that will include tax incentives for industries like oil refining and infrastructure.

Annual growth slipped to 4.67 per cent in the second quarter because of slumping demand for its commodity exports and weak domestic demand.