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Labour leaders flattered by invite to join Widodo on presidential jet

Kompas.com - April 29, 2015

Jakarta – Indonesian trade union leaders felt enormously flattered to be invited by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to join him on the presidential plane to visit the Central Java provincial capital of Semarang to officiate the construction of 1 million homes for workers.

Confederation of the All-Indonesian Workers Union (KSPSI) president Andi Ghani Nena Wea said that they received extraordinary special treatment from the president during the journey.

Jokowi invited the trade union leaders along with several cabinet members to fly to Semarang as passengers on the presidential plane.

"This is a historical moment for the working class in Indonesia, yeah, Jokowi is the first president of Indonesia to invite trade union leaders to travel in the presidential plane", said Andi, who was part of the president's entourage, when speaking with Kompas on Wednesday April 29.

"There has never been an administration before Jokowi's that treated workers like this. Not until Jokowi now. Presidents before him always maintained a distance and tended towards formality when they met us", continued Andi.

According to Andi, there were two moments during the trip that convinced the trade union leaders that Widodo cared about workers. First, said Andi, when the aircraft was in the air Widodo stood up and walked to the row of seats at the back of the plane to speak with the trade union leaders.

"The president came up to us. He requested that the May Day, May 1 2015 [rallies] proceed peacefully. We immediately conveyed our commitment to maintain security", said Andi.

A number of ministers traveled on the flight, including among others Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Puan Maharani, Labour and Transport Minister Muhammad Hanif Dhakiri and Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono.

The second moment, continued Andi, was when the president gave his greetings at a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of housing for workers, and he chose not to give a speech. The ceremony should have been used by Widodo to give a speech to trade union leaders.

"It wasn't planned at all. It was totally impromptu, outside of the normal protocol. The workers who were present welcomed the moment", said Andi.

The president's special treatment of the trade union leaders convinced them that Widodo is endeavoring to improve Indonesian workers' welfare.

Andi also guaranteed that the worker organisations would not try to overthrow the administration of President Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

"One of the ways workers will show their appreciation to the president is that we will guarantee that the May Day [rallies] will be peaceful and orderly. We will prevent infiltrators from getting in", said Andi.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was Diajak Jokowi Naik Pesawat Kepresidenan, Pimpinan Organisasi Buruh Tersanjung.]

Source: http://nasional.kompas.com/read/2015/04/29/20201361/Diajak.Jokowi.Naik.Pesawat.Kepresidenan.Pimpinan.Organisasi.Buruh.Tersanjung.

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