Labour rally in Jakarta highlights human rights, rampant corruption and low wages

CNN Indonesia – December 8, 2018
KPBI workers rally in front of State Palace – December 8, 2018 (CNN)
KPBI workers rally in front of State Palace – December 8, 2018 (CNN)

Jakarta – Hundreds of workers from the Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI) held a protest march on Saturday December 8 from the Farmers Monument in Central Jakarta to the nearby State Palace. During the action, the workers highlighted the problems of corruption and the government’s failure to resolve human rights violations.

“This action is a reflection of the regime that is in power, Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] has failed, particularly in cases of corruption and human rights violations in Indonesia”, said KPBI Secretary General Damar Panca.

Panca said that during Widodo’s administration corruption has become more widespread as have human rights violations. According to Panca, trade unions have also suffered human rights violations when holding protests.

Panca said that not long ago during a peaceful demonstration, works were assaulted and had tear gas fired at them by security personnel.

“Not just that, 26 labour activists have been indicted. So we are articulating this now because it is the right moment, namely in the lead up to Anti-Corruption Day (December 9) and Human Rights Day (December 10)”, he said.

In addition to highlighting human rights violations, they also demanded that the government take responsibility for providing social welfare for all Indonesians and rejected low wages, particularly in labour intensive industries, low rural incomes and contract labour and outsourcing.

Panca said that today’s action is also articulating several other problems such as inequality in employment, the criminalisation of activists and the need for free education.

The KPBI is an alliance of cross-sector labour federations. Saturday’s action was joined by the Indonesian Pulp and Paper Trade Union Federation (FSP2KI), the Cross-Factory Labour Federation (FBLP), the Populist Trade Union Federation (SERBUK), the Indonesian Harbour Transportation Labour Federation (FBTPI), the Indonesian Workers Federation of Struggle (FPBI), the Industrial Employees Trade Union Federation (FSPI), the Solidarity Alliance for Labour Struggle (GSPB) and the Greater Jakarta Railway Workers Trade Union (SPKAJ)

“This action is not just in Jakarta, similar actions with the same demands are also being organised by KPBI members in North Sumatra. In Jakarta they have come from across Jabodetabek [Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi, Greater Jakarta]”, he said.

According to CNN Indonesia’s observations, the hundreds of workers wearing red and carrying protest paraphernalia continued to articulate their demands from two command vehicles near the State Palace, directly in front of the West Monas intersection.

Now and then they also sang songs of struggle and followed the directions of speakers shouting labour demands. The protest was closely watched over by scores of police officers.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Ratusan Buruh Berunjuk Rasa di Istana, Soroti Pelanggaran HAM”.]