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Indonesia braces for big May Day rallies JAKARTA - Security forces were on top alert throughout Indonesia on Monday ahead of May Day rallies that could see tens of thousands take to the streets in Jakarta alone, police said. The demonstrations are taking place against a backdrop of government plans to revise a 2003 labour law, a move that has prompted a rising tide of worker opposition.

"We have 14,000 officers on alert ... all over the city," said Jakarta police spokesman Ketut Untung Yoga. "We are prepared for any number that can turn out. Police are also ready everywhere else in Indonesia where there are workers." Hundreds of riot police carrying shields and sticks, as well as other security forces, were already in place in the early morning hours near some key government offices.

Yoga said most of the protesters would mass at the capital's main roundabout, the presidential palace and the national parliament. Barbed wire and water cannon were visible at those central Jakarta locations. He said rallies could affect all parts of the sprawling city and its suburbs, which have a combined population of 14 million.

Last week Jakarta police chief Firman Gani warned rally leaders he could issue a shoot-on-sight order if protesters turned their demonstrations into anarchy. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is on a Middle East tour, has given his blessing to workers to commemorate May Day but urged them to keep rallies civil, local media reported.

Workers want labour legislation to stay untouched while employers complain that the 2003 law gave workers so many benefits and so much freedom to organise and strike that it dealt a blow to Indonesia's economic competitiveness and its attractiveness to investors. The government and current parliament, elected in 2004, want to amend the law to give employers more flexibility, curb strikes and soften regulations on severance payments for sacked workers, currently among the most generous in the world.

Last month Yudhoyono delayed sending official revision proposals to parliament, seeking academic help and setting more meetings of interested parties to finesse the planned amendments. The 2003 law was a product of the country's first democratic parliament after the 1998 fall of autocratic President Suharto, who had kept unions on a tight leash. The business community says it went too far the other way.


Related blog entry (category 'Protests') Related blog entry (category 'Protests'):
28 April 2006 · Security advisory: Labour Day strikes planned in Indonesia


Posted in Protests @ 01 May 2006 07:41 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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