Indonesian workers fighting for their rights

Traffic comes to a standstill along Jl Sudirman as workers protested at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta on Thursday. Demonstrations at the State Palace and the House of Representatives building covered a range of issues, including pensions, healthcare insurance and outsourcing. About 20,000 police officers were on hand for security (photo JP/Ricky Yudhistira)

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Jakarta rocked by mass protests

Thursday 22 November 2012

by Our Foreign Desk

Tens of thousands of Indonesian factory workers took to the streets in the country’s capital today to protest against low wages and a new social security law that will require them to pay for health services.

Thousands of workers rallied peacefully near the presidential palace in Jakarta before being joined by many thousands more on a march to the parliament building.

Nearly 20,000 police and soldiers were deployed to watch over the demonstration, which was organised by Indonesian trade unions.

Protesters, dressed in red and black, shouted “reject the law!” as buses and trucks arrived with loads of workers waving flags and banners lambasting a 2011 law requiring workers to contribute a percentage of their pay for social security and health benefits.

The law is expected to take effect in 2014.

Workers have refused to be burdened by additional premiums to obtain health insurance and social security, which are the government’s responsibility as mandated by the constitution, said Confederation of Indonesian Workers Union chairman Yoris Raweyai.

“That law is clearly unconstitutional … we demand a revision,” he said.

The protesters also demanded an increase in the minimum wage and a government policy to stop companies from hiring temporary workers without benefits.

Factory workers in Indonesia earn an average basic salary of just over £100 a month.

The economy grew 6.5 per cent last year, its fastest pace since the 1997-8 financial crisis.

The cost of living has been increasing rapidly, making it harder for workers to pay for food and other basic necessities.

See also here.

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