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May Day rallies in Bandung highlight low wages, lack of healthcare services

Tempo.co - May 1, 2017

Ahmad Fikri, Bandung – Actions by a variety of groups celebrating Labour Day or May Day on May 1 in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung were centred on Jl. Diponegoro in front of the Sate Building, the West Java governor's office.

"There were some who briefly conveyed their aspirations at the City Hall then they all gathered at the Sate Building", said metropolitan district police acting operational division chief Senior Deputy Police Commissioner Mahmud on Monday May 1.

The different labour organisations chose several locations in Bandung city as gathering points before moving off to the Sate Building. Mahmud said that police were on guard at several entry points into the city in order to escort labour groups to the Sate Building". "It's estimated that 2,500 people will participate", he said.

A number of workers from the greater Bandung area were also reported to have gone to Jakarta in order to join rallies in the capital. Around 259 people had set off for Jakarta and the West Java provincial police recorded 3 thousand workers planned to go to Jakarta.

According to Tempo's observations, the labour groups took turns in visiting the Sate Building to give speeches. The Indonesian Labor Union Confederation (Gaspermindo) for example rejected low wages.

"We reject low wages, reject outsourcing, and we are calling on the government to arrange cheap housing for workers", said West Java Gaspermindo chairperson Azhar Hariman on May 1.

A group of Bandung journalists also enlivened National Labour Day at the Sate Building. Bandung city Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) chairperson Ari Syahril Ramadhan highlighted the small number of trade union organisations in the media.

"[We're] inviting all journalists and media employees to form trade unions in their work place or form cross-media trade unions", he said.

The Bandung journalists also demanded that media companies fulfill the normative rights of media workers by providing standard minimum wages, allowances and holidays. They also protested the arbitrary dismissal of [Pikiran Rakyat] journalist Zaky Yamani.

The majority of workers who are part of the All Indonesian Workers Union (SPSI) arrived later. The hundreds of workers from the SPSI had earlier gathered at the Struggle Monument then marched on foot to the Sate Building.

The chairperson of the West Java SPSI Textile Trade Union Federation (FSP TSK SPSI) Roy Jinto said that the transfer of industrial relations supervision to provincial governments had not been effective. "Will it be optimal? Many companies don't implement the UMK [regional minimum wage] but the government just remains silent", he said.

Roy said that a number of demands by local workers related to sectoral wages have also never been agreed to by the governor claiming that decisions on sectoral wages for Bandung, Purwakarta and Karawang have never been signed off by the governor.

Highlighting low wages, Roy said that following the government's decision to tie annual wage rises to regional inflation rates, the government is now planning to revise Law Number 13/2003 on Labour, which workers reject. "The labour minister said that law 13 is not investor friendly so [they] want to revise it", he said.

The trade unions also demanded improvements to and additional healthcare facilities through the Social Security Management Agency (BPJS).

"We want improvements to services and more hospitals so that workers are no longer turned away by hospitals on the grounds that the beds are all full, yet we pay our dues but we never get BPJS healthcare facilities", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Aksi Buruh Peringati May Day Tumplek di Depan Gedung Sate".]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/news/2017/05/01/078871103/aksi-buruh-peringati-may-day-tumplek-di-depan-gedung-sate.

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