May Day protesters in Jakarta want Jobs Law revoked, end to outsourcing, low wages

Detik News – May 1, 2024
Labour Party and KSPI marching through Jakarta business district – May 1, 2024 (Suara Surabaya)

Jakarta – Commemorations of May Day or International Labour Day have taken place in a number of parts of Jakarta, although the main location for the protests centred on the Horse Statue near the National Monument (Monas).

The various actions, which began in the morning and continued through to the evening on Wednesday May 1 involved a number of different factory based trade unions and activists.

The workers began gathering on Jalan Merdeka Selatan near the Jakarta City Hall and towards the Horse Statue area in Central Jakarta. They then began to form into ranks with a command vehicle at the ready. Speakers then read out the demonstrators' demands to ignite the enthusiasm of the participants.

During the action by the regional factory workers, traffic on Jalan Merdeka Barat in the direction of Merdeka Palace was closed off and diverted to Jalan MH Thamrin.

Meanwhile a joint force of 3,454 officers from the national police (Polri), the TNI (Indonesian military), Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officials, the fire brigade (Damkar) and the Public Transport Office (Dishub) were mobilised at the various commemorations around Jakarta. The officers were deployed to provide security and expedite the demonstrations.

"Today we are ready to secure the workers and social organisations who will convey their opinions and we have deployed 3,454 officers, a combined [force] of TNI, Polri, Damkar and Dishub personnel who will be assigned to several security points around Monas and the GBK [Bung Karno Stadium]", Central Jakarta district police chief Senior Commissioner Susatyo Purnomo Condro told reporters.

Condro said that all personnel involved in security will act persuasively, will not be provoked, prioritise negotiations, services and be humanistic.

Revoke Jobs Law, reject low wages

Labour Party President Said Iqbal, who is also the president of the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI), conveyed the demands being taken up at the action. He said that this year there are two main points, namely revoking the Omnibus Law on Job Creation (UU Cipta Kerja) and "Hostum" (abolishing outsourcing and rejecting low wages).

"There are two main demands being brought to May Day this year. The first is to revoke the Omnibus Law on Job Creation. The second we call Hostum. Hos, abolish outsourcing, Tum, reject low wages", said Iqbal at the Horse Statue.

Iqbal said that a decent wage in Jakarta according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) is 5.2 million rupiah a month. Indeed if it is divided equally per head, it is close to 7 million rupiah.

"I am one of the central administrators of the world labor agency called the ILO [International Labour Organisation] based in Geneva. Indonesian workers' wages are only better than Laos and Cambodia which are new to independence. Lower than Vietnam, slightly higher than Myanmar. Lower than Malaysia, lower than Singapore", he explained.

Long-march from Dukuh Atas

At the action earlier this afternoon, the protesting workers held a long-march from the Dukuh Atas area in Central Jakarta to the nearby Hotel Indonesia traffic circle. There they held a carnival and at the same time articulated a number of demands.

During the long-march, the protesters blocked off half of Jalan MH Thamrin and traffic behind the demonstrators became congested. Meanwhile two-wheeled and four-wheeled vehicles used the Transjakarta busway lane.

Senior Commissioner Condro had earlier asked the demonstrators not to stop and give speeches at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle but to do so while marching. This was because traffic around the location had become congested. This resulted in an argument between Condro and one of the speakers.

"Now move aside, please. Once again Jakarta residents are still using this road, so I ask that everyone can keep walking. Don't stay here. Please move forward, come on, officers, please help carrying protest materials", said Condro from the command vehicle.

Posters burnt

The May Day protesters in the Horse Statue area also set fire to two huge posters, which had earlier appeared during the demonstration.

The two posters, which were burnt together, had pictures of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, the Constitutional Court justices and commissioners from the General Elections Commission (KPU). It also contained the demonstrators' demands.

"Revoke the Omnibus Law on Job Creation & its derivatives, increase workers' wages", read one of the banners.

The protesters were comprised of a number of social organisations ranging from trade unions, students, activists and a coalition of civil society groups.

Police guarantee security

The police said they appreciated the the workers expressed their aspirations today in an orderly manner. The police also said that May Day 2024 proceeded safely despite the burning of the posters at the Horses Statue.

"There was no friction, the situation is secure. They all followed the directions of officers in the field. It's still orderly, we are continuing to make appeals to maintain cleanliness, order. We must maintain order because this is a public area. But so far it has taken place in an orderly, safe manner", said Metro Jaya regional police (Polda) public relations head Senior Commissioner Ade Ary Syam Indradi.

The protest action disbanded at 6.05 pm and the roads that had been closed off were immediately opened again and traffic returned to normal.

"The public doesn't need to worry. The Metro Jaya Polda and its ranks are always ready to improve protection and safeguard the public", he explained. (wia/idn)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "4 Hal dari Peringatan May Day di Patung Kuda Jakarta".]