Deal Sought With Workers After Crippling Rally in Jakarta
Arientha Primanita &Lenny Tristia Tambun
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has instructed government officials to reach a deal with laborers who took to the streets of Jakarta on Thursday to demand a higher minimum wage and an end to the outsourcing of workers.
“The president wanted to see the workers and the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration to strike a deal,” presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said on Thursday. “The president has instructed the government officials involved to reach an understanding with the laborers.”
Julian said the government had responded to a similar rally by workers earlier this year with a decree and a Constitutional Court ruling.
Said Iqbal, the president of the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI) told the rally: “What’s most important is for the government to man up and say stop to outsourcing. The manpower minister must have the will. We want a moratorium on outsourcing, and for all outsourcing firms to have their licenses revoked.”
The massive labor protests, which involved tens of thousands of workers on Thursday, paralyzed parts of Jakarta.
Thousands of protestors gathered at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout before marching to the State Palace, halting traffic on Jalan Sudirman and Thamrin, Jalan Abdul Muis, Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat and Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara.
Other workers protested in front of the legislative complex and the offices of the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, the Attorney General’s Office and the Health Ministry. The protests forced the city transportation office and the Jakarta Police’s traffic department to divert traffic at several locations to prevent massive jams from forming.
Djoko Suyanto, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, said that although workers had the right to stage a demonstration, they should do so in an orderly manner.
“It shouldn’t disrupt other people from doing their activities or from working. The head of every group is responsible for controlling their respective group,” he said.
The president earlier said that a tripartite agreement between workers, employers and the government was key to overcoming labor problems.
He said the absence of negotiations and agreement would disrupt the economy and the business sector.