Despite Lebaran holidays, several hundred workers mark May Day in Jakarta

CNN Indonesia – May 1, 2022
Workers commemorate May Day in front of KPU building in Central Jakarta – May 1, 2022 (CNN)

Jakarta – The Labour Party demanded that the 2024 elections be held on schedule and that they be transparent and fair during a May Day action in front of the General Elections Commission (KPU) building in Central Jakarta on Sunday May 1.

The protesters also rejected increases in the price of basic necessities such as cooking oil, 3 kilogram LPG gas canisters and subsidised Pertalite petrol – which is mostly used by the working class.

Labour Party President Said Iqbal said that they want to ensure that the candidates elected during the 2024 legislative and presidential elections are people who side with workers.

"An election which is fraudulent and unfair will result in DPR [House of Representatives] and DPRD [Regional House of Representative] legislative members who do not side with marginalised groups or workers, and because of this an honest and fair election is needed", Iqbal told journalists in front of the KPU office on Sunday.

Other demands made by the protesters included rejecting money politics. The Labour Party and trade union bodies, said Iqbal, do not agree with the slogan "take the money, but don't vote for the person" because it creates a corruptive attitude.

"The Labour Party along with trade union bodies will be campaigning against money politics. The key lies with the KPU. The KPU must have the courage to disqualify [candidates] if money politics is found during the elections", said Iqbal.

Iqbal conceded however that during today's action they had no plan to meet with KPU representatives but only to convey their moral support for transparent elections.

He then highlighted the Omnibus Law referring to it as the product of elections which used money politics. "The Omnibus Law on Job Creation is a product which we think is a product which is full of corruptive [politics]", explained Iqbal.

In addition to the Labour Party, a number of other organisations commemorated May Day today by holding actions at the KPU and the nearby Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta.

Around 60 different trade unions are estimated to have taken part in the action at the KPU in which they demanded that the elections be held as planned on February 14, 2024. (ans/vws)

Small rally this year

Iqbal explained that only around 200-300 people took part in the protest action because this year's May Day coincides with mudik – the annual hometown exodus when millions of people return to their hometowns to commemorate the Lebaran holidays.

"Today's May Day action was small in respect of the Lebaran holidays, [many] comrades have already gone on mudik. But God will, on May 14, hundreds of thousands of workers will fill the streets", said Iqbal during a speech from atop of the command vehicle at the KPU.

Iqbal continued saying, "We have fasted for two years by not holding actions [because of the pandemic]. At this place [the KPU building], I courageously swear that there will be many demonstrations by labour groups, farmers, fisherpeople and the urban poor".

Speaking in the same vein, another orator said that only a handful of people joined this year's action in respect for the Idul Fitri holidays at the end of the fasting month. Workers however, did not want to lose the historical momentum of May Day, so they went ahead and held an action.

"The participants at this year's action are few in respect for Idul Fitri. [But] the Labour Party did not want to lose the spirit or flee from its own history. If taken literally on the 1st [of May] there must be at least one action which today is represented by the Labour Party", said the speaker. (isa/agt)

Marsinah proposed as national hero

Iqbal also said that they will propose that Marsinah be declared as a national hero because she is seen as representing workers through her struggle to defend workers rights.

"After this, we will move off to the Usman Ismail [cultural centre] cinema. (The agenda) is to confer the award of national hero on Marsinah, a national labour hero", Iqbal told journalists on Sunday.

The Labour Party, he continued, will be giving a Labour Award to Marsinah and several other figures as national heroes. They are also asking that the government form a committee to nominate Marsinah as a national hero.

"Because there has yet to be a single worker declared as a national hero. Yet [Indonesia's founding president] Sukarno said that one of the country's heroes are workers, including farmers and teachers", said Iqbal.

Marsinah was an activist and factory worker during the era of former president Suharto's New Order regime. She worked at the watch making company PT Catur Putra Surya Porong in Sidoarjo, East Java.

Marsinah was considered dangerous and was subsequently abducted and found murdered on May 8, 1993 after going missing for three days. (nsa/bir)

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski based on three articles by CNN Indonesia. The original title of the lead article was "Ratusan Buruh Gelar May Day di Jakarta, Tuntut Pemilu Jujur dan Adil".]