The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Fri, 05/02/2008 1:33 PM | Headlines
Workers and students across the country took to the streets Thursday to commemorate International Labor Day.
In Bandung, West Java, workers from industrial centers in Bandung, Cimahi and surrounding cities held rallies on Wednesday and Thursday. They demanded the government press ahead with the revocation of the 2003 law on labor, which they said harmed workers’ interests with its outsourcing and contract systems.
Members of labor organizations and students protested together in front of the gubernatorial and legislative offices at the Gedung Sate complex on Jl. Diponegoro.
In Bandarlampung, Lampung, Labor Day was observed by members of labor unions grouped in the People’s Struggle Front, who took part in a five-kilometer march from Taqwa Mosque to Gajah Monument in the city center.
They demanded the government intervene to bring down the prices of basic goods, subsidize education and healthcare, raise the minimum wage, eliminate the contract system of work and outsourcing, and create more job opportunities.
In Makassar, South Sulawesi, workers criticized the leadership of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla, saying their policies disfavored the poor and workers.
They also blamed the government for soaring food prices and for policies they said hurt businesses and forced them to lay off employees.
In Surabaya, East Java, thousands of workers from different labor unions affiliated with the People’s Struggle Front, together with students, demonstrated at a number of different sites in the city.
The nearly simultaneous rallies called for improved living standards for workers.
In Banda Aceh, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, scores of labor activists paraded around the city.
They demanded the Aceh provincial administration double the monthly minimum wage from Rp 1 million (US$110) to Rp 2 million, to allow workers and their families to lead decent lives.
In Batam, Riau Islands, labor groups rejected outsourcing and contract systems of work, as well as the 1992 law on Jamsostek workers’ insurance, which they said deprived them of their labor rights.
In Yogyakarta, thousands of workers from different organizations took to the streets demanding the government curb the prices of staple goods.
“Our minimum wage is very low, while the prices of basic needs have skyrocketed, adversely affecting workers. Most of us are no longer able to make ends meet,” one protester told the crowd.
The crowd responded with shouts of “Bring prices down immediately!”
In Medan, North Sumatra, there were no major rallies on Labor Day.
Workers said they did not organize rallies because Labor Day coincided with a national holiday, the Ascension Day of Jesus Christ.
However, the previous day workers protested at several different locations in the city, including the governor’s office, the legislative building and the Medan District Court. They demanded the government raise wages and improve their living standards.