Jogja May Day rally demands decent wages, affordable housing and transport

CNN Indonesia – May 1, 2024
May Day rally in front of central post office in Yogyakarta – May 1, 2024 (CNN)

Yogyakarta – Protesters from trade unions and student groups held a demonstration and long-march to commemorate International Labor Day or May Day in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on Wednesday May 1, in which they addressed wages that are increasingly unable to cover the cost of living.

The demonstrators began the rally at the Pal Putih Monument in the north of the city before marching through Jalan Mangkubumi to the Malioboro shopping district and the zero kilometer point in front of the central post office.

Some could be seen carrying the flags of their respective groups or trade unions such as the All Indonesian Workers Union (SPSI), the Confederation of the All-Indonesian Workers Union (KSPSI), the National Trade Union (SPN), the Labor Party, the Democracy Challenge Network (Sejagad) and the National Network for Domestic Workers Advocacy (Jala PRT).

Jala PRT coordinator Jumiyem along with fellow comrades at the action demanded that the Yogyakarta Special Province (DIY) government build affordable housing for workers.

This demand cannot be separated from the DIY provincial minimum wage (UMP) of only 2.4 million rupiah a month which Jala PRT considers to be too low to be able to afford a home, even food and clothing.

"Workers' wages in Yogyakarta are especially low so that workers cannot own a house and it's not even enough for daily needs", said Jumiyem.

With a nominal monthly wage of that size, said Jumiyem, it is almost impossible for workers, both formal and informal like PRT [domestic workers], to own their own homes. Moreover, the price of land and building materials in DIY also continues to soar, while the cost of basic necessities never stops creeping up.

"Up until now many working comrades are still living with their parents, not a few who are still living in boarding houses, when they already have a family, these working comrades also cannot send their children to higher education", Jumiyem explained.

According to Jumiyem, the fate of workers including domestic workers deserves the government's attention considering their contribution to driving the economy in the region.

Meanwhile the coordinator of the Yogyakarta Indonesian Trade Union Council (MPBI) demanded that the new government under president elect Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto revoke the Omnibus Law on Job Creation (Cipta Kerja Law) and replace labour regulations.

"We ask the new president, Prabowo Subianto to revoke the Cipta Kerja Law and replace the Cipta Kerja law so that contract labour and outsourcing systems can be abolished", said Irsyad.

While waiting for the Jobs Law to be replaced, continued Irsyad, the government is being asked to re-apply Law Number 13/2023 on Labour so that the rules on annual minimum wage increases and severance pay is regulated according to the old law.

Their next demand is asking Prabowo and vice president elect Gibran Rakabuming Raka to immediately realise the agrarian reform program, ratify the Draft Law on the Protection of Domestic Workers (RUU PRT) and the Draft Law on the Welfare of Mothers and Children (RUU KIA) as well provide proper protection to migrant workers.

"No less important, the Ministry of Labour must immediately adapt in concert with the development of the creative economy (ecraf), there needs to be a number of laws and regulations that can regulate ecraf workers including artists and artistic workers", added Irsyad.

They also urged the DIY governor to immediately increase the 2024 regency and municipal minimum wage (UMK) by at least 15 percent because the minimum wage in DIY is much lower than the Reasonable Living Cost Index (KHL) which is between 3.5 to 4 million rupiah a month.

The DIY regional government is also being urged to provide transportation services using Trans Jogja public busses with routes passing through factory areas and discounts for trade union members.

Furthermore, gradually providing educational scholarships for workers and their families and finally, urging the DIY regional government to immediately strengthen the position of workers so that they are able to obtain income outside of wages, namely through cooperatives. (kum/bmw)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "May Day di Jogja, Buruh Teriak Upah Murah Bikin Rumah Tak Terbeli".]