Hundreds of workers in Surabaya demand repeal of Omnibus Law on May Day

iNews Jatim – May 1, 2021
May day rally in front of governor's office in Surabaya – May 1, 2021 (iNews)

Lukman Hakim, Surabaya – On Saturday May 1 hundreds of workers from the Indonesian Metal Trade Workers Federation (FSPMI) held a demonstration in front of the Negara Grahadi building on Jalan Gubernur Suryo in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya as part of activities commemorating International Labour Day.

During the action, the workers put up banners and posters containing demands that the government pay more attention to workers' welfare and messages such as "Fight the shitty system of the devils' Omnibus Law".

The workers took turns in giving speeches demanding that the government pay more attention to workers, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic which has forced many companies to furlough or sack employees.

"We demand justice, revoke the Omnibus Law", said FSPMI action coordinator Ari Saputra, who is known by his friends as Pokemon.

In all there were eight demands taken up by the FSPMI during the action, namely rejecting Law Number 11/2020 on Job Creation (the Omnibus Law), realising the pledge by the governor and the East Java Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) to pass a bylaw guaranteeing severance pay, for a bylaw on minimum wages based on the classification of a business and to improve the performance and labour supervisory system in East Java.

Next they demanding sanctions for companies that fail to pay 2021 holiday bonuses, sanctions for companies which fail to register their workers with the BPJS social security program, for a bylaw requiring evidence of participation in the BPJS scheme if a company or employer wants to access certain public services and to set a minimum 2021 sectoral wage for Mojokerto regency.

During the action meanwhile, the workers also put up a huge poster with pictures of Semaoen and Marsinah. Semaoen was a figure from the Islamic Union who went on to establish the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). Semaoen organised workers to fight oppression by the Dutch colonial administration.

Marsinah meanwhile was a worker during the New Order era of former president Suharto. Marsinah was found dead on May 8, 1993 after going missing for three days. Before being killed, Marsinah had been fighting for better working conditions at the company where she worked.

Despite the rally, traffic on Jalan Gubernur Suryo was uninterrupted with passing vehicles using half of the road because the other half was taken up by workers. Police officers were on guard to secure the action and direct traffic.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Peringati Hari Buruh, Ratusan Pekerja Serbu Gedung Negara Grahadi".]