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May Day action in Yogya slams outsourcing as 'modern form of slavery'

Detik News - May 1, 2012

Bagus Kurniawan, Yogyakarta – Thousands of students and workers in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta commemorated International Labour Day or May Day on Tuesday May 1.

The action, which was organised in a series of waves, was centered on the Malioboro shopping district, the Yogyakarta Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) building and kilometer point zero or the intersection in front of the Yogyakarta central post office.

A number of different organisations took to the streets including, among others, the Bantul branch of the Indonesian Independent Trade Union Federation (FSBII), the Yogyakarta Workers Alliance (ABY), the Indonesian Trade Union Action Committee (Kasbi), the Yogyakarta Special Province Non-Government Organisation Forum (Forum LSM DIY), the Yogyakarta People's Alliance (ARY), the People's Challenge Alliance (ARM), the Kemudo Workers Association (PBK), the Gendong Workers Association (PBG), the Gadjah Mada University Student Executive Council Community of Students (BEM-KM UGM), the Islamic Students Association (HMI) and the Indonesian Youth Front for Struggle (FPPI).

All of the actions began at the Abu Bakar Ali parking lot on the northern side of the Inna Garuda Hotel followed by a long-march to the grounds of the Yogyakarta DPRD on Jl. Malioboro and ending at the central post office.

In addition to taking turns giving speeches, what also made the action interesting was a recital of the song "Iwak Peyek" (a popular hit song), the lyrics of which were changed to words articulating the misfortunes of the working class.

The lyrics of the song became, "Iwak peyek, iwak peyek, an ear of corn, fuel prices go up, fuel prices go up, the people are blunted. Here we call in the promise, why is outsourcing legalised, why are workers' wages lowered", which were sung as they few the flags of their respective trade unions.

During the march through the Malioboro area, the protesters also held a theatrical action. Four for the demonstrators played the role of workers with their bodies smeared in red paint and their feet tied to a box made from black cardboard pushing a trishaw carrying an employer.

During an action on the grounds of the Yogyakarta DPRD meanwhile, other protesters held a sleep in and a "walking backwards" action. This was an expression of protest against the president and vice-president who just sleep and pay no attention to the misfortunes of the workers. The walking backwards action was an expression of the degeneration the ordinary people and workers' quality of life.

In a speech, ABY Secretary General Kirnadi said that they reject and are demanding the abolition of contract and outsourcing systems because they only benefit employers and are not in accordance with wage regulations. Workers' labour is squeezed out of them and when they finish their term of employment, their contracts are terminated.

"Outsourcing systems are a form of modern or new style of slavery, it must be abolished", shouted Kirnadi. He also criticised the low level of Yogyakarta's province minimum wage (UMP), which is lower than other areas, and the muzzling of trade unions in several companies, some of which were even prevented from joining the May Day actions.

"We also call on the government not realise the fuel price hikes (which were delayed on April 1), bring down the price of basic commodities, provide social security for workers and reject discrimination against women workers", he said.

There was only a limited security presence during the actions with police mainly regulating the flow of traffic along the length of Malioboro. (bgs/nrl)

[Peringati May Day, Buruh-Mahasiswa Yogya Nyanyi 'Iwak Peyek' – detikNews. Selasa, 01/05/2012. Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski.]

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