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Police, TNI block labour rally in Banten calling for 20% minimum wage rise

Detik News - November 19, 2018

Bahtiar Rifa'i, Serang The Serang city district police (Polres) and the Banten regional police (Polda), with assistance from the TNI (Indonesian military), have blocked workers from various industrial areas in Serang and Greater Tangerang from entering Banten city.

The thousands of works, who were stopped at the traffic lights on Jl. Serang-Jakarta in Parung district, had planned to enter the city and hold a rally at the Banten governor's official residence.

Based on media reports, an estimated 30 thousand workers from across Banten began arriving for the protest from various different areas at around 4pm.

Labour representative Dedi Sudrajat said they were demanding that the Banten governor increase the Banten regency and municipal wage (UMK) by around 20 percent and that the governor meet with worker representatives before setting the UMK on November 21.

"We are demanding a 19.17 percent increase in the UMK, we have yet to obtain a satisfactory result, after this we will reassess our position", Sudrajat told journalists in Serang.

According to Sudrajat, the workers were disappointed because the governor is not listening to their demands. "We have contacted the governor's aide but the reason was because the he's out of town", he said.

"To this day there has been no real intent to meet with the ordinary people", said another worker.

Frustrated, the workers then blockaded the Serang-Jakarta arterial highway paralyzing the flow of traffic in the direction of Ciruas and creating a traffic jam some six kilometers long.

Banten Polda operational head Senior Commissioner Hermansyah said that that they stopped the workers from holding an action at the governor's office because it is located on a main street in the middle of the city.

"If they went into the city, lots of people would be upset. We didn't authorise this because it's on a main street", Hermansyah told journalists in Serang on Monday November 19. He said the workers  were given an alternative of holding an action in the area where the Banten regional government is located.

Meanwhile Serang district police chief (Kapolres) Assistant Superintendent Komarudin said that if the protesters insisted on holding the rally in front of the governor's residence, they were conserned that it would paralyze the city.

"It is impossible to do this bearing in mind that the [governor's] official residence is on a main street. We cannot permit the Serang city public to be disrupted. The action is legitimate but can't be allowed to disrupt public order", he said.

Speaking through a megaphone, Komarudin asked the workers to disband and think clearly because they are disrupting access to the road. "Many members of the public need access to the road. We are warning you for a second time, please brother workers, think clearly lest there be victims among us", said Komarudin.

He then asked the leaders of the trade union alliances to disband the rally within 10 minutes. "Remember many members of the public are being disrupted because road access is blocked", he said.

At around 7.30pm the workers finally began leaving the area and the main road near the Parung traffic lights was reopened and traffic began flowing again.

[Abridged translation by James Balowski compiled from three reports by Detik News on November 19. The original title of articles were: Polisi Hadang Massa Buruh yang Mau Demo di Rumah Gubernur Banten, Demo Buruh, Arteri Serang-Jakarta Macet Total hingga Sore Hari and Massa Buruh Bubar, Jl Arteri Serang-Jakarta Kembali Dibuka.]

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