Thousands of workers take to the streets in lead up to May Day

Suara Pembaruan – April 30, 2008
Aspek workers rally in front of Town Hall in Jakarta (Tribune)
Aspek workers rally in front of Town Hall in Jakarta (Tribune)

Thousands of workers from various companies held protest actions at different locations in Jakarta on Wednesday April 30 in the lead up to the commemoration of International Labour Day or May Day. Even larger waves of protest actions are planned for tomorrow.

Since early Wednesday morning, around 2,000 workers from 40 labour organisations that make up the Indonesian Association of Trade Unions (Aspek) held demonstrations at the Jakarta Regional House of Representatives, the Jakarta Labour Office and the Jakarta City Hall. Later they plan to march to the State Palace where they will protest until 6pm.

The majority of protesters gathered at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in Central Jakarta. In a speech, Aspek Secretary General Indra Yana demanded that governor of Jakarta fulfil his promise to clarify the status of Jakarta’s ambulance workers, pay outstanding wages and provide healthcare.

They also demanded an end to outsourcing and increases to the regional minium wage and called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono sack the Minister of Labour and Transmigration, Erman Suparno, because his ideas are counterproductive to the creation of fair industrial relations for Indonesian trade unions. They then moved off to rally at the city hall and State Palace.

Thousands of other workers from the National Trade Union (SPN) meanwhile were already filling the Jakarta City Hall demanding improvements to workers’ welfare and for social security for workers.

“We are calling for Gubernatorial Regulation No. 82/2006 on Accident and Death Insurance to be applied consistently. The regulation has existed for some time but is not implemented by companies. We are calling on the provincial government to supervise the regulation”, said SPN Jakarta chairperson Endang Sunarto.

The Metro Jaya regional police meanwhile said it would act firmly against any protesters that behave lawlessly during the May Day commemorations on Thursday. Metro Jaya police chief Inspector General Adang Firman said that they would be mobilising around 15,000 security personnel, comprising 10,000 police officers supported by 5,000 members of the Indonesian military and city public order officials on Wednesday and Thursday.

[Abridged translation by James Balowski.]