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Jakarta Post

Thousands set to mark Labor Day

  • Indah Setiawati

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, April 30, 2014   /  09:14 am
Thousands set to mark Labor Day Spreading the tentacles: Several labor activists prepare posters, banners and an effigy of a giant octopus for tomorrow’s International Labor Day demonstrations at the secretariat for the Congress Alliance of Indonesian Labor Unions (KASBI) in Tangerang, Banten, on Tuesday. As many as 100,000 people are expected to take part in Labor Day rallies in the capital. (JP/Jerry Adiguna) (KASBI) in Tangerang, Banten, on Tuesday. As many as 100,000 people are expected to take part in Labor Day rallies in the capital. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)

Spreading the tentacles: Several labor activists prepare posters, banners and an effigy of a giant octopus for tomorrow'€™s International Labor Day demonstrations at the secretariat for the Congress Alliance of Indonesian Labor Unions (KASBI) in Tangerang, Banten, on Tuesday. As many as 100,000 people are expected to take part in Labor Day rallies in the capital. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)

As many as 100,000 workers are expected to take to the streets of Jakarta on Thursday in the first ever Labor Day in Indonesia, on May 1.

Confederation of Indonesian Workers'€™ Unions (KSPI) chairman Said Iqbal said preparations for the day were in full swing.

He expected to see 100,000 workers at the rally, which will head from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta to the Presidential Palace.

'€œAfter the rally, we will gather at Bung Karno Stadium [in Senayan, Central Jakarta]. On Monday we received confirmation from over 70,000 workers who bought tickets to our event,'€ he told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono decided in July last year that May 1 would be a national holiday from 2014 onward.

Said explained that the event in Senayan would feature dangdut music and statements from workers regarding the presidential election on July 9.

'€œWe will favor presidential candidates who are willing to sign a political contract related to 10 issues,'€ he said.

He added that, as of today, no single presidential hopeful had signed the contract. However, he said that out of all potential candidates, only Gerindra Party chief patron Prabowo Subianto had confirmed his attendance.

Meanwhile, Obon Tabroni, the chairman of the Bekasi chapter of the Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI), which is under the KSPI, said 30,000 workers in Bekasi had confirmed their attendance.

According to Said, besides the KSPI, which claims to have 1.4 million members, Thursday would see rallies from other federations.

They are the Joint Indonesian Workers Secretariat (Sekber Pekerja Indonesia), the National Workers Union (SPN) and the Congress Alliance of Indonesian Labor Unions (KASBI).

'€œOur stances on certain issues are different. For example, Sekber rejects the election, while we support it. Meanwhile, SPN and KASBI reject the BPJS [the Social Security Management Agency], while we demand improvements in it,'€ he said.

Indonesian labor observer Kirsty Hoban said Labor Day might not see workers in high spirits, as the three biggest labor confederations '€” KSPI, the All-Indonesia Workers Union Confederation (KSPSI) and the Confederation of Indonesian Prosperity Trade Unions (KSBSI) '€” were not united like they were in 2012.

She said the KSPSI and KSBSI deemed the KSPI too extreme when it strived for a 50 percent wage increase in 2013.

Said added that the split in unions only occurred at the elite level. He said he believed workers at the grassroots level still shared the same agenda.

The Manpower and Transmigration Ministry says there are six union confederations, 92 federations and 11,852 company level unions that boast 3.4 million members in Indonesia.

Thousands of workers in other cities across the country will also use the holiday to promote their demands.

FSPMI North Sumatra head Minggu Saragih said 5,000 workers would rally in front of the governor'€™s office and the North Sumatra Police, to demand the better handling of labor cases.

Saragih said because Thursday was a national holiday, the union would not have to go to factories to persuade members to rally.

In Dumai, Riau, the administration has organized social events to better manage crowds and to forge better relations between workers and employers.

Dumai Workers'€™ Union coordinator Syaiful Azhar said the union agreed to the plan and would participate in the event.

In Batam, Riau Islands, the FSPMI will send 20,000 workers to rally in five spots there.

However, many workers will still attend work on Thursday, as many employers have offered higher overtime wages for the day.

Indonesian Prosperity Trade Union (SBSI) Batam head Surya Dharma Sitompul said he hoped the workers would not work overtime.

'€œThey are not prohibited from working on Labor Day but if they do, our struggle is a waste,'€ he said.

'€œWorkers must remember this. The national holiday is not a gift from the government, but a result of our struggle,'€ Surya said.

Apriadi Gunawan, Fadli and Rizal Harahap contributed to this story from Medan, Batam and Dumai.

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