Here’s a collection of some of the press on May Day demonstrations in Indonesia this year. If you have any media that we missed, please pass it along and we will include it.
- Clashes Between Police and Protesters: The Front Nasional Perjuangan Buruh Indonesia – Politik Rakyat Miskin website has video of a TV report on a confrontation between May Day protesters and police and the Voice of Human Rights has a written report.
- East Java: While the Governor of East Java promised a dialogue with workers on May Day, hundreds of workers demonstrated outside his office. Issues for the demonstrators included the use of contract labor, discrimination against women in the workplace, job security, and the rampant violation of the provincial minimum wage.
- English Daily Editorials: The Jakarta Post added their editorial voice to the mix: “During the Soeharto years, workers’ protests were almost unheard of because they would be considered communists… It is time to abandon this trauma…We must learn to perceive protests by workers as an expression of their rights and we should get rid of our shy tendencies through greater collective bargaining of wages and working conditions.” The Jakarta Globe‘s editorial struck a different tone, writing “We certainly support labor in their fight, but workers must also look beyond mere matters of wages and strive to seek to build win-win relations with their management.”
- Erwin Schweisshelm: The Jakarta Post also ran this interview with Erwin Schewisshelm of German non-profit Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. He offered his own assessment of the Indonesian labor movement: “There is shadow and light. Unions are not well organized, even in the formal sector, and have no political allies. But I see a couple of young but professional unions and union leaders in the metal industry, commerce and financial sector and others that have built strong unions with real negotiating power, but who also know that social partnerships are of mutual benefit (to employers and workers) and that industrial action is only a means of very last resort.”
- Journalist Demonstrate: Tempo reports journalists demonstrating in Palembang and in Aceh over “increasing welfare, proper wages, and legal protection…the contract-based work system and criminalization against the press.”
- New Labor Coalition: A new labor coalition was announced on Friday, “named the Labors-Traders-Farmers-Fishermen Coalition (BPPN), consists of various labor unions such as the National Workers Reformation Center (SRPN), the Indonesian Traditional Traders Association (APPSI) and the Fishermen’s House of Democracy (RDN).” Judging from the write-up in The Jakarta Post, it appears the coalition has been created as a vehicle to lobby for pro-labor policies in the upcoming election. Whether the ties between these unions extend beyond the election will be interesting to follow.