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As around 2.8 million workers nationwide prepare to strike on Wednesday in protest of the cheap labor policy and uncertain access for health care, the police beefed up security and prepared for traffic detours to prevent traffic jams and chaos.
National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Agus Rianto said on Tuesday that besides Greater Jakarta, the strikes would be staged simultaneously in 12 provinces, 37 municipalities/regencies and would involve workers from 745 companies at 80 industrial estates.
“We hope protesters will comply with rules and will not disrupt public order,” Agus said.
Police would deploy 15,000 security personnel to safeguard Wednesday’s labor strike, in which 23,000 workers around Greater Jakarta would be participating, city police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said.
He said the police had prepared 10,000 officers from police precincts and Mobile Brigade (Brimob) units and 5,000 military personnel for dispatching to guard industrial areas throughout Jakarta, Tangerang, Bekasi and Depok, and to secure vital buildings and public facilities, including toll roads during the strike.
The strike is organized by the Indonesian Workers Assembly (MPBI) and the Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers Union (FPSMI), who are demanding an increase in the minimum wage and the elimination of the outsourcing employment system.
“From the notification the police received, an estimated 23,000 workers will stage strikes in their respective workplaces. We, however, will not underestimate the situation and will be on guard over the possibility that the number will increase and that strikers will rush onto the streets,” he said, adding that the number of protesters could increase as other workers might join them out of solidarity.
He said that the police would also be on guard to anticipate the possibility that the 5,000 workers from the capital and another 5,000 from Tangerang might take to the streets and stage rallies in front of the Presidential Palace, the National Monument (Monas) and the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, all in Central Jakarta. He also said there was a possibility that 10,000 workers from Bekasi would join the rally in Jakarta.
Rikwanto said that a number of personnel would also be dispatched to safeguard public and toll roads, in anticipation that the strike would stop traffic, as was the case in another labor protest earlier this year.
In January, thousands of workers in Bekasi and Tangerang blocked roads connecting regencies neighboring Jakarta, causing severe traffic congestion. The demonstration was held in response to a lawsuit filed by the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) in the Bandung State Administrative Court (PTUN), challenging West Java and Banten administrations on regional minimum wage. After the widespread protests, Apindo agreed to withdraw its lawsuit.
Rikwanto said that to prevent such severe congestion from happening again, police would divert traffic around the East Jakarta Industrial Park (EJIP) and the Cikarang Barat Toll Gate.
Said Iqbal of MPBI, on the other hand, stated that around 500,000 workers would stage protests in the EJIP area joining an estimated 2.8 million protesters nationwide.
“Please avoid the area tomorrow [Wednesday] as there will probably be severe traffic congestion. The MPBI is sorry for any inconvenience caused by the strike,” he said.
In the Riau Islands, Governor Muhammad Sani instructed the police to deploy riot police as 44,000 workers, under coordination of an alliance of labor unions, would stage a demonstration at the Batam Mayor’s office to convey their similar wishes to the local administration.
Police chief Brig. Gen. Yotje Mende said that a joint force of 1,467 personnel from the police in Batam, Rempang and Galang islets, the Army, Public Order officers and Batam Free Trade Zone security officers would safeguard the strike in the province. (aml)