The workers expressed their objection to the entry of blue-collar or yellow-hat expatriates into Indonesia.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Thousands of workers took to the street on Tuesday to observe May Day and voice their aspirations, including rejection of unskilled foreign workers, demand for wage increase, lowering of prices, and abolition of outsourcing system.

Workers holding rallies across the country represented different labor organizations and alliances, such as Indonesian Workers Unions Confederation (KSPI) and alliances grouped under the Labor Movement for the People.

During peaceful rallies held by the Indonesian Workers Unions Confederation in 25 provinces on Tuesday, the workers expressed their objection to the entry of blue-collar or yellow-hat expatriates into Indonesia.

They put forth at least three important demands, namely reduction in the prices of rice, electricity, and fuel; rejection of low wages; as well as the rejection of yellow-hat foreign workers from China.

Basically, the call for rejection of yellow-hat expatriates was based on their fear of being sidelined. After all, Indonesia still has to provide employment for more than seven million jobless workers. Local workers are concerned that foreign workers would take away their jobs.

Moreover, foreign workers are also paid higher. "Local workers get pay Rp4 million at the most, while expatriates can get up to Rp10 million," Arif Wandi, chairman of the metal, electronic and machinery unit of (LEM) of the All Indonesian Trade Union (SPSI) told TV One on Tuesday.

Therefore, demonstrating workers also asked for the revocation of Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 20/2018 on the Recruitment of Expatriates.

Vice Chairman of the House of Representatives, Taufik Kurniawan, has recently asked the government to explain Presidential Regulation No. 20 of 2018 on the recruitment of expatriates to avoid misperception among the people.

The issuance of the government regulation simplifying the procedures for the recruitment of expatriates has been suspected to be facilitating the influx of foreign workers.

State Secretary Pratikno clarified that Presidential Regulation No. 20 of 2018 on foreign workers was aimed at simplifying the procedures for applications, rather than assisting in bringing workers to the country.

The number of foreign workers in Indonesia was still very reasonable compared to the population of about 263 million people. There were 85,947 foreign workers until the end of 2017. The number was 80,375 in 2016 and 77,149 in 2015.

Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri stressed that the government would refuse permission to any company seeking to recruit foreigners as blue-collar workers.

Besides the demand for rejection of foreign workers, demonstrators also sought increase in wages. They also called for the revocation of PP No.78/2015, which they considered to have set low wage standards.

The workers of 35 alliances grouped under the `Labor Movement for the People` urged the government to lift PP No.8/2015 as a first step in the efforts to create a just national wage system.

"Apart from the decent wages and withdrawal of PP No.78 / 2015, we also demand that the government consistently combat corruption; increase subsidies for the people, especially in education, health, energy, housing, and transportation; and commit to realizing agrarian reform," they remarked in a joint statement received by ANTARA in Jakarta on Tuesday.

There are at least nine demands submitted by the "Workers` Movement for the People" at a rally themed: "Build Alternative Politics to Establish Justice Indonesia."

"We reject the International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting in Indonesia. We request that all forms of criminalization against the people (laborers, peasants, urban poor, and students) be stopped. We ask the government to improve the protection of seafarers from Indonesia, migrants, and domestic workers. The last demand, we ask the government to improve the protection of women`s rights," they added.

President of KSPI Said Iqbal, in a written statement in Jakarta on Tuesday, forecast that some one million workers followed the peaceful action of Labor Day in 25 provinces and 200 districts across Indonesia.

Iqbal pointed out that May Day actions are being simultaneously conducted across Indonesia, including in Surabaya, with 50 thousand workers rallying in front of the East Java governor`s office; 15 thousand workers in front of the Central Java governor`s office; 15 thousand workers in front of the office of the mayor of Batam; 2 thousand workers in Aceh; 10 thousand workers in North Sumatra; and thousands of laborers in western Java.

In Jakarta, peaceful rallies were centered in front of the Merdeka Palace by bringing together masses of workers from Jakarta and surrounding cities of (Jabodetabek), Serang, Karawang, and Purwakarta, with Indosat Horse Statue being the point of congregation.

Apart from the KSPI, the congregation of workers also came from the Confederation of Indonesian Folk Workers; the Federation of Indonesian Trade Unions; the Nusantara Committee of the State Civil Apparatus; the Federation of Postal and Logistic Workers of Indonesia; the Honorary Forum Category 2 of Indonesia; the All Indonesian Workers` Organization; and the Indonesian Port Workers` Federation, among others.

They unfurled banners bearing various demands, such as the ratification of the Revised ASN, or state civil apparatus, Act 2018, and Indonesia to become a national research-based industrial country; the improvement of health insurance services; revocation of Government Regulation No 78 of 2015 on Labor Wages; and revision of the Decent Living Cost provision from 60 to 84 points.


Reporter: Andi Abdussalam
Editor: Heru Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2018