Jakarta – Smoke from flares and fireworks marked the end of the commemoration of International Labour Day or May Day 2019 at the Arjuna Wijaya or Horse Statue in Central Jakarta on Wednesday May 1. The masses of workers from various trade unions and federations began to disband at around 5.15 pm.
“To our friends and colleges, with this we end this year’s action”, announced one of the workers from atop of the command vehicle.
The protesters could be seen disbanding in an orderly fashion with some leaving on foot while some also rode on the command vehicle. A line of busses could be seen waiting to transport the workers home.
Earlier, thousands of workers gathered and gave speeches to commemorate May Day at the Horse Statue. However hopes that they would be able to meet directly with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to convey their demands face-to-face failed to transpire after police refused to give them permission.
In speeches the workers made several demands. The main point which was the focus of their demands was the revocation of Government Regulation Number 78/2014 on Wages which workers have been campaigning against since May Day 2016.
They believe that the regulation harms workers because there is no average minimum wage.
A number of other issues were taken up by the workers protesting at the Horse Statue including, among others, bringing down the price of basic commodities, reforming the Social Security Management Agency (BPJS), ending gender based violence and upholding women workers’ rights.
They also called for the ratification of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention Number 183 on Maternity Protection, firm action against employers who violate workers’ rights, rejecting the mistreatment of Indonesian workers by foreign workers and the abolition of contract labour, outsourcing and exploitative apprenticeship systems.
As soon as the protesters had disbanded, the “orange troops” – the city’s official team for cleaning up garbage – moved in and began cleaning up the rubbish left behind from the rally. Officials also swept the roads which had earlier been filled by protesting workers.
A joint unit of security personnel from the National Police, TNI (Indonesian military) and Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers could also be seen starting to leave the Horse Statue area.
Earlier, they had been assigned to maintain security and form a blockade to prevent the workers from breaking through to Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat where they had wanted to give speeches in front of the State Palace. (mts/DAL)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Kembang Api Akhiri Aksi May Day di Patung Kuda Jakarta”.]