Labor union leaders have established a new workers’ council that they say will unite workers at a rally meeting at Bung Karno Stadium on Tuesday.
"Workers' struggles have thus far been fragmented, which is why we are creating this council. It’s the largest workers organization in Indonesia, maybe even the world," chairman of the Confederation of Prosperous Indonesian Labor Unions (KSBSI) Mudhofir said.
The Indonesian Workers' Council would be an ‘umbrella organization’ for workers' solidarity and will represent 8 million union members from 11 of Indonesia's largest unions, including the Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers’ Union (FPSMI) and the Indonesian Workers’ Organization (OPSI).
The council would be the voice of 170 million Indonesian workers, most of whom are informal and currently non-unionized, according to a representative.
Union leaders read the demands of workers in a document titled the Indonesian Workers' Manifesto, demanding higher wages and calling for the government to guarantee social security. They also wanted May Day to be named a national holiday.
"If the government doesn't listen to the voice of labor, we will take to the streets," said chairman of the Confederation of All-Indonesian Workers’ Union (KSPSI), Andi Ghani Nena Wea.
The Jakarta rally started around 10 a.m. at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle on Jl. MH Thamrin, stopping in front of the Constitutional Court and the Presidential Palace before ending inside Bung Karno Stadium at 3 p.m.
Three-thousand buses were used to carry workers to Jakarta from all over the country, with traffic grinding to a halt around the five-kilometer march route. (png/swd)