Category Archives: May Day

May Day Posters 2012

As police and activists prepare for May Day protests, I thought would share NobodyCorp‘s always provocative posters, these produced for the upcoming protests.  I will add more as they come out.

[Update]:  I have added a couple more posters there were not produced by NobodyCorp.


Images From May Day 2011

Students and Workers outside Gedung Sate, Bandung (Iman Herdiana/okezone)

In Front of the DPR Building, Jakarta (Lauren/ detikcom)

Peringati May Day, Ribuan Buruh Menyemut Di Istana

Protest at Bundaran Hotel Indonesia, Jakarta (Republika)

"Indonesian laborers march towards the presidential palace during a rally to mark May day in Jakarta on Sunday. Thousands of Indonesians demanded better social security for workers as they held a peaceful Labour Day rally amid a heavy police presence." (AFP Photo)

More May Day 2011

I was not diligent enough to do this, but the IndoLeft News Service has compiled an impressive collection of English translations of the Indonesian press coverage of worker protests on May Day 2011.  Below is a list of actions, with links to the articles in English and Indonesian:

  • May Day actions centered on Malioboro, Yogya on state of high-alert – Tempo (English | Indonesian)
  • May Day protests in Yogya call for end to outsourcing, contract labour – Detik (English | Indonesian)
  • Police blockade prevents Makassar workers from occupying airport – Detik (English | Indonesian)
  • Women workers in Bandung demand right to breastfeed – Okezone (English | Indonesian)
  • May Day heats up in Jakarta after protesters set fire to tyres – Detik (English | Indonesian)
  • Workers and students unite for May Day in Bandung – Okezone (English | Indonesian)
  • Hundreds of workers in Jakarta descend on Labour Ministry – Detik (English | Indonesian)
  • Surrounded by razor wire, parliament besieged by hundreds of workers – Detik (English | Indonesian)
  • Students in Bali condemn government for failing migrant workers (English | Indonesian)
  • Workers alliance calls for improved working conditions – Komhukum (English | Indonesian)
  • Workers in Semarang say government sides with capitalists, not workers – CyberNews (English | Indonesian)
  • Workers in Sukabumi say they have no time to perform ritual prayers – Pikiran Rakyat (English | Indonesian)
  • Journalists in Aceh call for improved safety guarantees and welfare – Media Indonesia (English | Indonesian)
  • Activists and workers in Lampung say workers’ rights being trampled on – Republika (English | Indonesian)
  • Workers call for cancelation of ASEAN-China free trade agreement Viva News (English | Indonesian)
  • Workers in Purwokerto commemorate May Day with ‘sleep in’ – Media Indonesia (English | Indonesian)
  • Boyolali workers reject contract labour, call for women workers’ rights – Solo Post (English | Indonesian)
  • Solo workers commemorate May Day by ‘destroying the walls of capital’ – Cyber News (English | Indonesian)
  • Workers clash with police at Jakarta airport – Detik (English | Indonesian)

May Day 1958

Below is a sketch found in the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) periodical The Red Star (Bintang Merah) of a May Day rally held in Jakarta in 1958.

May Day 2011

“I have celebrated International Labor Day in the last five years with visits to companies.” – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

"Workers from various labor unions demonstrate outside the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on International Labor Day on Sunday. They demanded higher pay and called on the government to make May 1 national Labor Day." (Jakarta Post/Nurhayati)

Rather than attempt to compile a summary of all the various May Day protests mobilizing thousands of workers in locations throughout Indonesia, I will instead  suggest to English readers that they can find coverage of May Day in Indonesia here, here, and here.  The main issues raised by protesters will be familiar:  improved wages to keep up with rising prices, an end to outsourcing and contract labor, and the implementation of previously promised social security programs.

Ridwan Max Sijabat of The Jakarta Post provides a fuller explanation of the proposed social security programs, the lack of movement by the government thus far regarding their implementation, and a fairly pessimistic view of the labor movement’s ability to push for state action.

Labor unions and pro-labor legislators are organizing mass rallies in big cities and industrial estates. More than 50,000 workers and students are expected to take to the streets on May 1 to protest the government’s reluctance to start implementing its national social security system (SJSN) and its rejection of a bill on insurers.

The 2004 National Social Security System Law required the government to issue 11 government regulations and 10 presidential instructions by October 2010 to implement five mandatory universal progams — healthcare benefits, occupational accident benefits, old-age risk benefits, pension benefits and death benefits.

Ridwan Max Sijabat’s claim that “The government has paid no serious attention to the planned mass rallies for May Day mainly because they will not be fruitful,” will seem overly pessimistic to some.  However, after the press coverage of the May Day events, one might come away with a similar feeling, with May Day protests representing an annual event of political awareness, but hardly a critical political moment.  Though I am sure it is more energizing on the ground.

More On May Day Preparations

The chairman of Federasi Serikat Pekerja BUMN Bersatu, a union representing workers in State-Owned Enterprises, is alleging that government officials gave improper benefits to trade unionists as encouragement to not demonstrate on May Day.   The Jakarta Post explains below:

Arief Poyuono, general chairman of the United Federation of Workers of State-Owned Enterprises, said he had laid a complaint with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) after Manpower and Transmigration Ministry officials allegedly gave each of 300 unionists Rp 110,000 ($13) and a hamper of food and cooking oil.  Arief did not say who made the payments.

Present at the meeting were National Police Chief Gen. Timur Pradopo and Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar, who gave a speech during the meeting at the ministry on Tuesday, urging the workers to show restraint.

Arief said he believed the money and hampers were an attempt to prevent the trade unionists from marching in Sunday’s rally.  If the packages were legitimate bonuses, they would have been paid to all Indonesian workers, not just the 300 unionists who attended the meeting, he said.

Police Prepare For May Day Demos

The Jakarta Post reports on police preparations in advance of May Day:

Jakarta Police has announced plans to dispatch 6,000 personnel to a number of locations across the capital to secure May Day events this weekend.  The locations include areas around the Presidential Palace, the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, and several factories, National Police operational bureau chief Sr. Comr. Sujarno said in Jakarta on Wednesday.

“Security measures will also be applied in areas including Monas and the Proclamation Monument [both in Central Jakarta], where large [rallies] are expected,” Sujarno said, as quoted by Antara. Sujarno added that Jakarta Police was working with the West Java Police and the Banten Police to anticipate thousands of workers who may enter the capital from the two regions to attend the rallies.

Last year an estimated 10,000 people took part in May Day rallies, Sujarno said, adding that police did not know how many people would turn out this year.  “We’re also coordinating with a number of labor unions, including the National Workers Union [SPN],” he added.