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Compilation of reports from Detik.com on May Day in Indonesia

[The following is a compilation of abridged translations taken from Detik.com on the May Day rallies held in Indonesia on May 1.]

State Palace 'attacked en masse' by thousand of workers

Ramadhian Fadillah, Jakarta – For those of you planning to pass by the National Monument in Central Jakarta today you may want to think again. Police have been forced to close off all traffic on Jl. Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara after it was inundated by some 2,000 workers commemorating May Day.

The different groups of workers, who had been arriving in waves since 1.30pm and brought banners, posters and the flags of their respective trade unions, immediately took control of Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara, which is located directly in front of the State Palace.

Prior to this they had held a march from the Hotel Indonesia roundabout. Upon arriving they began singing songs of struggle attacking the government for not paying attention to the welfare of workers.

Security personnel who had initially appeared relaxed as they waited for protesters to arrive were immediately put on alert with some 300 officers from the Metro Jaya district police blockading the workers from behind a barbed-wire barricade. Behind them stood 500 members from the Mobile Brigade armed with clubs, teargas and capsicum spray. (bal/umi)

Five thousand workers march on national parliament

Chazizah Gusnita, Jakarta – Around 5,000 workers from the Greater Jakarta Indonesian Metal Trade Workers Federation (FSPMI) held a march from the offices of the Investment Coordinating Board to the House of Representatives (DPR) on Tuesday May 1.

During the march they unfurled banners against the establishment of a special economic zone. They also brought a bier that was covered with a pink umbrella as well as gongs and Balinese masks. The workers, who wore blue shirts with the writing FSPMI flooded onto the Jl. Gatot Soebroto slow-lane preventing traffic from using the it. (umi/nrl)

Transvestites, gays and lesbians enliven May Day in Jakarta

Nograhany Widhi K, Jakarta – A march by workers to the State Palace in Central Jakarta on May Day by some 1000 workers from the Indonesian People's Front (FRI) was also joined by around 30 transvestites, gays and lesbians wearing tank-tops, jeans and high-healed shoes.

Their demands were conveyed on 1x3 metre wide banners with messages such as "Take responsibility for fulfilling the needs of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals", "Remember, transsexuals are also a resource okay" and "DPR members' wages keep going up, when will transsexuals get a turn to work".

Action coordinator Rido Triawan said that transsexuals suffer a great deal of discrimination and are unable to work in formal sector even though many are university graduates. "In the end many are forced to work in the informal sector as prostitutes. We are demanding that they be allowed to work in the formal sector", shouted Triawan. (nik/nrl)

Journalists join May Day protests at State Palace

Ramadhian Fadillah, Jakarta – Journalists wages can be categorised as low. Commemorating May Day, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) are demanding that they be paid a minimum wage of 3.2 million rupiah a month.

"According to an AJI survey, there are journalists that are only being paid 200,000 rupiah a month", said the coordinator of the Jakarta AJI Trade Union, Winuranto Adhi, during a speech at the State Palace on Tuesday.

In addition to asking for a wage increases, AJI also appealed to media workers not to accept 'envelopes' from informants and that they must safeguard their independence by refusing bribes in any shape or form.

"Journalists must struggle for a reasonable wage, because if journalists' wages are low then they will accept envelopes. If they have received envelopes then their reports cannot be objective anymore", he asserted. (ken/umi)

Hundreds of workers in Solo commemorate May Day

Muchus Budi R., Solo – Hundreds of workers from the Workers Challenge Alliance (ABM) held an action to commemorate May Day in which they demanding that the day be declared an official holiday and expressed their opposition to contract labour systems.

The action, which started at the Panggung intersection was followed by an orderly march to the Gladag roundabout where they held speeches before going on to the Surakarta city hall where they demanding that the government and business pay attention to workers' rights. They also called on the government to make May 1 a national holiday, for workers to be paid a reasonable wage and for the abolition of contract labour systems.

A similar action was held by some two thousand workers in Sukoharjo, Central Java who rallied at the offices of the regent and the Sukoharjo Regional House of Representatives (DPRD). (mbr/asy)

Carrefour workers in Jakarta labour bill revisions

Irwan Nugroho, Jakarta – Workers gathering at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in Central Jakarta to commemorate May Day were also joined by members of the Carrefour Indonesia Trade Union (SPCI)

According to action coordinator Nasir, the Carrefour workers joined in the commemoration on May Day to express their opposition to planned revisions to the 2003 labour law.

"We explicitly reject revisions to Law Number 13/2003 on Labour. We also demand the abolition of contract systems and outsourcing for workers. And we demand a reasonable wage in accordance with a minimum national wage", said Nasir when speaking with Detik.com during a break in the demonstration.

Marching around the roundabout yelling "Viva Workers" and singing the national anthem Indonesia Raya they also brought Carrefour trade union flags and banners with the message "Reject outsourcing, don't sell the country off to foreigners", and "We workers are handcuffed on account of Uncle Sam". They then held a march to the State Palace resulting in severe disruption to traffic. (rmd/nrl)

Victims of mass dismissals commemorate May Day in Yogyakarta

Bagus Kurniawan, Yogyakarta – International Labour Day this year was not just commemorated by workers that are still actively employed. In the Central Java city of Yogyakarta workers who have fallen victim to mass dismissals also took to the streets on May Day.

The dismissed workers were previously employed at factories and hotels in Yogyakarta such as the Sahid Yogya Hotel, PT Duta Pratama Jaya and the Grestenanan billiard hall. During the action the unemployed workers said that they were victims of arbitrary actions by their employers and they have still not been given reasonable severance pay packages.

"We have repeatedly made our demands to the companies but we still haven't been paid", said former Sahid Yogya Hotel employee Sudikno on the grounds of the Yogyakarta DPRD. (djo/nrl)

Right-wing thugs attempt to disrupt May Day in Yogyakarta

Khairul Ikhwan, Yogyakarta – A commemoration of May Day in Yogyakarta was almost marred by a clash when protesters from the Yogyakarta People's and Worker Alliance (ARPY) were unexpectedly waylaid by members of the Anti-Communist Front (FAKI) and the Yogyakarta Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

The FAKI and FPI members accused the ARPY of being infiltrated by the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) that they claim has a communist ideology.

The incident occurred at the intersection in front of the central post office when a man climbed up onto an open pickup truck that ARPY was using as a platform and dragged a person giving a speech off the vehicle. Initially the ARPY activists were too shocked to react but were eventually able to rescue their colleague.

Tension rose as FAKI and ARPY members confronted each other but fortunately police were able separate the two groups before a clash could break out.

Five thousand workers rally in Medan for May Day

May Day was also commemorated by thousands of workers in the North Sumatra provincial capital of Medan with around 5,000 workers rallying at the North Sumatra DPRD and the Medan State Court.

The workers, who came from a number of labour organisations such as the North Sumatra Trade Union (SBSU) and the Indonesian Prosperous Trade Union (SBSI), were demanding improvements to workers' welfare and that May 1 be declared a national holiday. (djo/sss)

'King of Corrupters' joins May Day rally at State Palace

Irwan Nugroho, Jakarta – Many methods are used to express the life of oppressed workers. In commemorating May Day at the State Palace workers held a number of interesting kinds of actions.

One of these was a huge rat that was brought to the rally by protesters from the All Jabotabek Trade Union (SPSJ). Of course the rat was not actually a real rat. If it had the black rodent measuring 2.5 metres high, 1.2 metres wide and 3.8 metres long would have weighed at least 200 kilograms.

The rat was being used to depict a corrupt national leader who has enacted unjust regulations for the lower-classes in society such as labour contract systems and low wages. Hanging around its neck was a sign reading "King of Corrupters". (ken/nrl)

Ten thousand workers blockade main highway in Banten

Alamsyah, Serang – Traffic on the road towards Pandeglang in Banten province was paralysed today when around 10,000 workers protesting at the Banten DPRD blockaded Jl. Palima, the main highway from Serang to Pandeglang.

Police had not expected that workers would blockade the road and many vehicles were trapped forcing police to find alternative routes for traffic.

Prior to "attacking" Jl. Palima the workers had gathered at the Maulana Yusuf Stadium then held a convoy of cars, trucks, busses and motorbikes to the DPRD building. Upon arriving at the DPRD they immediately began giving speeches under the tight security by around 1,000 police who had also erected a barbed-wire barricade some 10 metres from the fence. (umi/nrl)

Public transport workers demands special protection

Irwan Nugroho, Jakarta – The welfare of transportation workers such as drivers, conductors and mechanics has received little attention despite the fact that they are vital to the economy. They are therefore calling on the government to issue special law to protect transport workers.

"We are asking the government to immediately issue a law to regulate and protect us as workers in the transportation sector", said Ilmansyah from the Preparatory Committee for the National Federation of Transport Workers (KPFNBT) during a break in a demonstration at the State Palace today.

According to Ilmansyah transport workers have two main demands, clear working hours and set wages. "Public transport drivers always become the target for illegal fees from government officials and thugs", complained Ilmansyah. He added that their incomes had also declined because there were now so many unofficial cars operating as public transport vehicles. (bal/umi)

Police 'bribe' Bandung workers with bread and water

Erna Mardiana, Bandung – Thousands of workers in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung took to the streets to commemorate May Day. Even the police displayed a sympathetic attitude by handing out bread and water to the workers.

The workers, who had been gathering since early morning at the Gedung Sate building complex in Bandung had arrived from various parts of West Java. From there they moved off towards the West Java Labour and Transmigration Office. Before moving off however, hundreds of police officers from the West Java regional police and the Bandung municipal police held a sympathetic action by handing out bread and mineral water to the workers.

"Bread... bread... drinking water... drinking water", shouted the police officers, who sounded exactly like street peddlers. The workers responded warmly to the gifts, after all it was quite a hot day.

Bandung regional police chief Mashudi laughed when asked if their actions were done to "bribe" the workers so they would behave well. Likewise when asked how much bread was handed out. "Ha, ha, I don't know how much. Take a look its quite a lot", he said.

During the action the demonstrators demanded that workers' rights be respected, that the law on labour affairs be upheld and rejected systems of contract labour. (djo/nrl)

Workers besiege Gresik parliament, May Day in Surabaya quiet

Budi Sugiharto/Zainal Effendi, Gresik – May Day was commemorated by demonstrations in various parts of East Java. In Gresik, around 10,000 workers besieged the local DPRD while in provincial capital of Surabaya, hundreds of workers fanned out to protest at six different locations in the city.

In Gresik, thousands of workers arrived on motorbikes and trucks from various industrial areas including Menganti, Driyorejo, Manyar and Kebomas. The action was marred by an incident when workers were involved in a minor clash with company security personnel in the Kebomas industrial zone.

At the DPRD 13 worker representatives from an alliance of trade unions were allowed inside to convey their demands to legislators. Other workers packed the streets and public areas near the parliament listening to speeches.

In Surabaya May Day commemorations were quieter with only a few workers taking to the streets and demonstrating at separate locations. Workers and student activist could be seen protesting at the State Grahadi Building, the Radio Republic Indonesia (RRI) Building, the State Court, the Labour Office and the offices of the East Java governor.

Different groups arrived at the Grahadi Building in waves including protesters from the Indonesian National Students Movement (GMNI), People's Power and the Indonesian Youth Front for Struggle (FPPI), who called on the government to increase wages and abolish labour contract systems. After giving speeches at the Grahadi Building, scores of FPPI activists moved of to demonstrate at RRI. (gik/asy)

May Day commemorations in Sidoarjo almost ends in clash

Budi Hartadi, Sidoarjo – A clash almost broke out between protesters and police during a commemoration of May Day in the East Java city of Sidoarjo.

The incident started when dozens of police officers attempted to prevent some 200 workers from the May 1 Workers Movement (GB1M) from approaching the Sidoarjo DPRD. Other workers going to the DPRD were also waylaid in front of the Agung Mosque. "Why are we forbidden from going to the DPRD. This is a harassment of the Islamic community. It means the police are stupid and bad", said the demonstrators.

The workers then changed direction in order to get around the police blockade and were finally able to approach the main gate of the DPRD building. However tensions rose again when police chased workers who tried for force their way onto the DPRD grounds. (gik/asy)

Trade unions, students commemorate May Day in Semarang

Triono Wahyu Sudibyo, Semarang – As was the case in other cities, thousands of workers also took to the streets of the Central Java provincial capital of Semarang to commemorate May Day. In order to prevent themselves from being swamped by the thousand of demonstrators, the Central Java DPRD budding and the governors offices were forced to close their front gates.

The workers, who came from a number of different organisations, arrived in waves after gathering at the Baiturrahman Mosque in Simpang Lima, the University of Diponegoro in Pleburan and the water fountain roundabout on Jl. Pahlawan.

The first group to arrive were from the SPN, but for reasons that are unclear they chose to hold an action at the RRI instead of the DPRD and governor's offices.

Shortly afterwards hundreds of activists from the Independent Trade Union Federation (FSBI), Student Executive Councils (BEM) from the University of Diponegoro and the 17 August University, the Indonesian Islamic Students Movement (PMII) and the National Student League for Democracy (LMND) began arriving. Police who were already on guard, immediately closed the gates to the DPRD and the governor's office.

As a result demonstrators were only able to protest in front of a nearby office. All of the different groups demanded that the government abolish labour contract systems, increase the minimum wage and introduce policies that side with workers. They also demanded that May 1 be declared a national holiday. (try/nrl)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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