Workers and farmers commemorate May Day in Bandung

Tempo Interactive – May 1, 2008
May Day rally at Gedung Sate building (Ayo Bandung)
May Day rally at Gedung Sate building (Ayo Bandung)

Erick Priberkah Hardi, Bandung – Thousands of people from worker, farmer and student organisations inundated the Gedung Sate building complex in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung today. Aside from condemning the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla for failing to side with workers and farmers, they also called for the abolition of contract labour systems and outsourcing.

“Provide job security, abolish labour contract systems and outsourcing”, said Hidayat from the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI). Hidayat also said they are calling for agrarian reform through the implementation 1960 agrarian law and the abolition of the law on foreign investment.

Although International Labour Day is a national holiday, many workers were unable to attend the protest because companies continued to operate and refused to give their employees the day off.

“As a result only a few representatives came, whereas usually if it’s a holiday workers get a break”, said Hidayat. Because of this therefore, KASBI and other trade unions have agreed to demand that May become a national holiday.

Dikdik, an activist with the National Student Front (FMN) said that the oppression of workers has been worsened by the spread of labour brokers in the recruitment of workers. Only by paying 1-1.5 million rupiah to brokers – who are usually thugs or village officials – can jobseekers obtain work as contract labourers. “Whereas after working for three months for example, the worker’s contract can be terminated unilaterally by the company”, said Dikdik.

Aside from KABBI and FNM, also commemorating May Day were workers from the Association of Independent Indonesian Trade Unions (GSPMI), the 1992 Indonesian Prosperous Labour Union (SBSI), Agrarian Reform and the Bandung Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI).

Meanwhile in a press release handed out during a break at the demonstration, AJI said that may media workers such as journalists ware paid below that the cost of living. The group called for journalists to be paid a decent wage and an end to contract labour systems and outsourcing and demanded safeguards for journalists in the form of workplace accident insurance, heath insurance and life insurance.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski.]