This morning at 10 A.M. Jakarta had a rally that started in front of Bunderan HI (Hotel Indonesia Circus). I was walking on the pavement from Grand Indonesia Shopping Town toward Plaza Indonesia when a bus suddenly stopped in front of me. Men wearing red shirt hopped off the bus yelling “justice for labourers”. Soon massive crowd riding motorcycles passed by, many were carrying Indonesian flag and flags of various labour organisations.
The crowd continued riding and stopped in front of Japan Embassy where police stood guard. Then the protesters set up a stage where the speaker stood up and expressed the reason why they came there.
the text reads “destroy the capitalists at Yamaha Music MFG Indonesia Ltd.”
Apparently Yamaha Music Indonesia’s factory is caught in a budget scandal. The management allegedly took the money assigned for the workers’ family day, resulting the workers unable to enjoy the promised day-off with their families. The workers have discussed the matter with the factory’s management, then with the company’s management; a mediation process that, according to one of the workers’ representatives took 3 months to do. Still with unsatisfactory result because the board of directors choose to be on the management’s side, which angers the workers. To prove that they are unsatisfied with the decision, as well as demanding justice from the company, the workers of Yamaha Music MFG Indonesia along with other workers’ organisations decided to protest in front of Japan Embassy. They wanted Japan Embassy to take action on disciplining Yamaha Music MFG Indonesia and demanded the company to follow the regulations for workers rights and Perjanjian Kerja Bersama (Workers-Companies Agreements).
“company leaders do not follow the regulations”“kick out Toshiaki Goto (chairman of Yamaha Music MFG Indonesia”“We are workers of Yamaha Music MFG Indonesia Ltd, demanding: justice establishment, law enforcement, company musts follow constitution and workers-company agreements, responsibility from Yamaha Music MFG Indonesia Ltd.”
The protest went out peacefully. I stood there watching for 30 minutes and there was still no response from the embassy, after that I left. But then I read in a news that they continued the protest to the front of Istana Merdeka (Independence Palace, where the president works and lives), to demand payrise.
This type of protest is not a strange thing in Jakarta. As long as you can gather mass and ask permission from the police – guaranteeing that you won’t create chaos – then you are free to express what you think, although most of the times you only worsen the traffic. An internal conflict between workers and employers like this usually only ends up in page 10 news, not more than 2 short paragraphs. Indonesians have the habit to go bigger when our aspiration is unheard; if you can’t get your bosses to hear you, you make the entire Jakarta hear you and get caught in traffic caused by you. I do wish we have better protection for our labourers as they have significant roles in the development of the nation, but sometimes companies do squeeze them out of their energy. A thorough labour insurance is needed. But in term of protests like these… it’s as a daily habit as a plate fried rice. Good morning, Jakarta.