Worker and student alliance in Surabaya raises series of demands on May Day

Tempo – May 1, 2024
Bara Api alliance May Day rally in front of governor's office in Surabaya – May 1, 2024 (Tempo)

Dimas Kuswantoro, Jakarta – The People's Anti-Oppression Front or Bara Api, which is an alliances of various civil society groups in Surabaya, East Java, held a demonstration in front of the Grahadi building (the governor's office) on International Labor Day or May Day, Wednesday May 1, with the theme "Realising the Welfare and Sovereignty of the People".

The rally included a theatrical performance, poetry readings, singing and a long-march from the Bungkul Park to the Grahadi building. "It's expected to be able to draw a larger audience and more protesters", said Senja, one of the students from the Law Students Solidarity for Indonesia (SMHI).

Senja said that International Labor Day is a momentum for the ordinary people's struggle. "The hope is basically that the May Day's action this time or every year is not considered as ceremonial. May Day actions are a momentum for the rights of those who are still oppressed by the power holders", said Senja.

In a Bara Api leaflet the alliance said it views oppression in the world of labour as continuing to expand to include farmers, micro, small and medium sized enterprises (UMKM), health workers, journalists and creative workers.

The alliance called for fair and dignified revisions to the UMKM Law. Other demands were related to increasingly expensive and unfriendly education costs and that female workers must be guaranteed a safe work environment. Likewise, for disabled people to have the same rights and that they should not be marginalised in the workplace.

The alliance also highlighted the Omnibus Law on Job Creation (UU Cipta Kerja) and its derivative regulations that do not provide welfare to workers.

"The hope of alliance comrades is that [the government] can respond, especially on the welfare of children and workers' families", said Senja.

The Bara Api is comprised of the Surabaya Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the East Java Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI), the Airlangga University (Unair) Law Faculty Indonesian National Students Movement (GMNI FH), the Unair SMHI Law Faculty, the Republic of Indonesia Student Brigade (LAMRI), the Surabaya Street Library, the Surabaya Street Paramedics, Amnesty Unair, the Unair Student Executive Council (BEM), the Surabaya Labour Solidarity Institute (ISBS) and the East Java Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi).

Also part of the alliance is the Unair BEM Cultural Science Faculty (BEM FIB), the Unair BEM Faculty of Social and Political Science (BEM FISIP), the Surabaya Student Struggle Center for National Liberation (Pembebasan), the Surabaya Papua Student Alliance (AMP), the Sunan Ampel State Islamic University (UINSA), Savy Amira, the Surabaya Institute of Technology BEM (BEM ITS), the East Java Veterans National Development University (UPNV Jatim) BEM FISIP, the Tambak Bayan Art Institute, the Indonusa Esa Unggul University (UNESA) GMNI, the Surabaya Syndication Preparation Committee, the UNESA United Student Action (KAM), Unair BEM vocation and the Surabaya Grassroots Front for the Sovereignty of Natural Resources (FNKSDA).

"The formation of Bara Api was initated by the East Java KASBI and the Surabaya ISBS", said Endang, a Bara Api representative from KASBI.

The GMNI and LAMRI, said Endang, discussed the state of workers in East Java whose rights have been abrogated by Omnibus Law. The alliance is a consolidation of community groups, students and workers. "In the end, all the different elements joined and formed the alliance", Endang said.

The following demands were taken up on May Day:

1. Revoke the Jobs Law and its derivative regulations.
2. Stop dismissals and union busting.
3. Implement a decent, fair and dignified national wage and revoke Government Regulation Number 51/2023.
4. Reject contract labour systems, outsourcing, apprenticeship work systems and fake partnerships for online taxi drivers.
5. Protection for women and an end to workplace harassment.
6. Day care and lactation rooms for women workers.
7. Leave for working fathers when wives give birth.
8. Guarantees and protection for palm oil, rubber and sugar cane plantation workers.
9. Guarantees and protection for migrant workers, fishing workers and sailors.
10. Promoting honorary government workers to permanent position with decent wages.
11. The stabilisation of the price of rice and other basic commodities.
12. Rejecting fuel, electricity and toll road tariff hikes.
13. Stop the repression and criminalisation of activists, health workers and journalists.
14. Free and scientific education for all and rejecting the industrialisation of education.
15. Realise genuine agrarian reform, rejecting the land bank and evict the land devils.
16. Safeguard the environment, rejecting land theft and forced evictions from the people's land.
17. Build a strong national industry under the control of the people.
18. Implement genuine democracy, reject political dynasties.
19. Provide social welfare for all workers.
20. Enact the Draft Law on the Protection of Domestic Workers (RUU PPRT).
21. Realise justice and equality for workers with disabilities in accordance with Law Number 8/2016.
22. Stop discrimination against environmental activists based on racial, religious and ethnic issues (SARA).
23. Realise an affordable home ownership program for the working class.
24. Guarantee and protect workers in the cognitive, creative and cultural sectors.
25. Provide the right of self-determination as a democratic solution for the Papuan nation.
26. Revise the UMKM Law in a far and dignified manner for UMKM workers.
27. Protect and legally acknowledge freelance workers.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Hari Buruh Internasional, Deretan Tuntutan Unjuk Rasa Gabungan Buruh dan Mahasiswa Surabaya".]