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Apr '06

Police on alert for massive labor protests

The National Police are deploying two-thirds of their personnel to maintain order during massive labor protests and industrial action planned for Monday in conjunction with International Workers Day.

Although several major labor unions plan to mark May Day later in the week, millions of workers are set to protest Monday in Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi to show their opposition to the government’s planned revision of the 2003 Labor Law.

They argue the planned changes are pro-business and would diminish their rights.

As well as the police, governors also have been instructed to prepare for the demonstrations and possible unrest, which marred protests held in Jakarta and other cities earlier this year.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam said the police would deploy two thirds of their 250,000 personnel to maintain security and order on May Day, especially in Java.

For Jakarta alone, the police will deploy more than 14,000 personnel, with 2,000 stationed around the National Monument and the State Palace.

He said security personnel had a shoot-on-sight order for workers involved in violent demonstrations, but it would be done in accordance with the official procedure.

An alliance of labor unions, calling itself the Alliance of Laborers Demands, said here Friday the rallies would target main streets and government buildings.

Alliance spokesman Ilham Syah said the observance would be marked with rallies along major throughfares of Jl. Thamrin, Jl. Merdeka Barat and Jl. Merdeka Utara in their attempt “to besiege” the State Palace.

“We want to show the government and inform them we are deeply concerned by poor labor conditions amid the current economic difficulties, and over the planned revision of Law No. 13/2003,” he told a press conference.

He said the labor unions in the alliance were asked to inform their regional branches to guard against violence.

The Confederation of Indonesian Prosperous Labor Unions (KSBSI) also has thousands of workers set to take part in the rallies.

“We planned the national strike months ago and we are prepared to join it,” said KSBSI chairman Rekson Silaban.

The two largest labor groups, the Confederation of All-Indonesian Workers Union (KSPSI) and Indonesian Trade Union Congress (ITUC), will celebrate May Day on different dates.

ITUC vice president Khoirul Anam said his organization would hold a day-long seminar on labor conditions in the country on May 3, while KSPSI plans to stage peaceful rallies on May 5 when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to have returned from his state visit to the Middle East.

Yudhoyono has urged workers not to go on a national strike, warning it would only cause losses to all sides.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said May Day should be celebrated in the same way people observed the Idul Fitri post-fasting month holiday.

“The essence of May 1 is something which is celebrated joyously and not with demonstrations with unclear targets…,” he said at his office.

He said it was no longer necessary for workers to stage demonstrations because the government listened to their grievances in a recent discussion with the President.

Home Minister Moh. Ma’ruf said he ordered governors to take anticipatory measures to prevent celebrations and labor rallies from causing unrest.

He said workers were within their rights to celebrate May Day but it must be done in accordance with the law.

Sumber : The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

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