May Day woes: Two men assist a disabled passenger who landed at Polonia airport in Medan, North Sumatra, on Tuesday. The passenger could not use his wheel chair because the road was blockaded by workers observing International Workers’ Day. JP/Apriadi GunawanThousands of workers from various organizations staged rallies in big cities across the nation on Tuesday in conjunction with the commemoration of International Workers’ Day.
In Medan, North Sumatra, workers blocked the road leading to Polonia International Airport for five hours, thereby leaving many passengers to be stranded.
Scores of arriving passengers were also forced to walk on foot for hundreds of meters to exit the arrival terminal.
Despite the blockade, however, the rallies did not disrupt any flights. “All are running normally and there was no instruction to halt the airport’s activities,” said Bram Bharoto Tjiptadi, general manager of the airport’s management company PT Angkasa Pura II.
In Yogyakarta, workers commemorated labor day by visiting the national hero cemetery to pray for their predicament.
“Our best generation is the 1945 generation and we want to inherit their spirit,” said Bugiakso, head of the central board of the Labor Party.
He said Indonesia was a rich country, but unfortunately its people were mostly poor. “There must be something wrong with its leadership,” he said.
In Cirebon, West Java, May Day was marked with a massive prayer and Koran recital by workers, mostly from the labor union of state railway company PT KAI.
The spokesman of PT KAI’s Cirebon chapter, Sumarsono, said that the action was aimed at asking for a blessing from God for the workers’ welfare.
“Aside from asking for blessing, the action is also intended to strengthen brotherhood among the workers,” he said.
A similar request was aired in Surakarta, Central Java.
In Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, the workers gathered in front of the govenor’s office, demanding an improvement of welfare.
“We want the government to omit the outsourcing system, which tends to cause losses on the part of the workers,” Lalu Wirasakti, the rally coordinator, said of a system that sees many firms pay wages far below regional minimum wages.
In Bandung, workers demanded that labor day be declared as a national holiday. The demand was aired by representatives of the Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union, the National Labor Union Confederation and the Committee for Labor Solidarity Action.
“If the world community has labor day as a holiday, why don’t we?” asked Ajat Sudrajat, head of the central board of the Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union.
Similar major rallies to mark labor day were also held in Surabaya in East Java, Padang in West Sumatra, Batam in Riau Islands, Palu in Central Sulawesi and Makassar in South Sulawesi.
Apriadi Gunawan, Slamet Susanto, Fadli, Nana Rukmana, Arya Dipa, Kusumasari Ayuningtyas, Wahyoe Boediwardhana, Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, Andi Hajramurni, Agus Maryono and Ruslan Sangadji contributed to this article.