Indonesia: Big May Day Protest
- Indonesians Protest Labor Law on May Day
The protesters brought life in Indonesian cities to a standstill.
JAKARTA, May 1, 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) Marking the
May Day, thousands of Indonesian workers took to the streets in the
main cities on Monday, May 1, to protest a proposed revision of the
country's labor law.
"Don't change the law," chanted more than 10,000 protestors rallying
across the capital Jakarta while waving banners rejecting review of
the 2003 labor law, Agence France-Presse (AFP) said.
The protestors condemned Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
as an enemy of the workers.
"A revision of the law should lead to improvement but in this case it
would only make it worse, with leave revoked and the contract system
encouraged in hiring labor," Marihot Nainggolan from the Indonesian
Prosperous Labor Union told AFP.
"If the government deems that the law is hindering more investment,
that is a mistake. Investment is hard to get because of the prevalence
of corruption... and bureaucratic red tape," he said.
Television showed workers massing outside parliament spilling onto the
streets and paralyzing traffic.
Thousands of workers also rallied at the manpower ministry but
dispersed after officials assured them that they would pass on their
demands to the minister.
Industrial zones surrounding the capital Jakarta were paralyzed by the
protests with factories shut due to the absence of workers, according
to ElShinta radio.
The Indonesian parliament has been mulling amendments to the country's
2003 Labor Bill to give employers more flexibility, curb strikes and
soften regulations on severance payment for dismissed workers.
But trade unions blasted the proposed law revisions, saying the
changes ignored the plight of Indonesian workers.
The proposed amendments envisage that some workers would receive no
compensation upon being retrenched and others would only receive seven
months' salary as compensation.
They also allow companies, which close down or go bankrupt not to pay
workers compensation and to allow foreign workers to take up jobs in
The protestors urged the government not to succumb to demands of
foreign investors to change the law.
"We want to show the leaders that we don't want to succumb to the ways
of the foreign investors," a female speaker told a rally in front of
the presidential palace.
"We are not the reason for the bad investment climate but why are we
being the sacrificial lamb?" rally leader Suryadi told Reuters
He argued that corruption and bureaucracy were the major obstacles to
investment in Indonesia, not workers' rights.
Similar protests were also held in 12 other cities in the world's most
populous Muslim nation.
About 85 percent of Indonesia's 220 million people are Muslims.
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